Ombudsman criticizes Feyenoord mass arrest; Mayor wants protest ban around matches

Unannounced demonstration before the Feyenoord vs Roda JC match in Rotterdam, 21 Feb 2016. About 250 arrested (Photo: Politie)Unannounced demonstration before the Feyenoord vs Roda JC match in Rotterdam, 21 Feb 2016. About 250 arrested (Photo: Politie)

326 protesting Feyenoord fans suffered an "unlawful infringement on their fundamental rights" when they were arrested on February 21st, National Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen and Rotterdam Ombudsman Anne Mieke Zwaneveld conclude in their report on the mass arrests titled No Winners, ANP reports.

The Ombudsmen investigated the event and are "very critical" on the manner in which the fans were detained, poor communication between Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, the police and the fans and the legal basis on which the 326  people were arrested.

On February 21st the Feyenoord supporters wanted to protest their team's poor performance by marching to the Maasgebouw. They did not officially reported the protest to the municipality, only announced it on Facebook. The mayor, the chief public prosecutor and the police were concerned about rioting and decided not to allow the march to the Maasgebouw. But they failed to inform the protesters about this decision.

This resulted in the Feyenoord supporters marching to the Maasgebouw and straight into what they call "the trap". Fights with the police and riots ensued, resulting in the arrest of 326 people for illegal gathering.

The Ombudsmen found that there was insufficient legal bases for detaining the supporters, searching them and demanding photo proof of identity. There was also no ground for group arrests.

In response to the events of February 21st, Mayor Aboutaleb decided to ban demonstrations several hours before, during and after football matches in De Kuip, he wrote in a letter to the city council on Wednesday.

The Rotterdam faction of GroenLinks called this plan "unacceptable" and demands that Aboutaleb withdraws this measure immediately. "The right to demonstrate is a fundamental right. It is one of the foundations of our constitutional state. A mayor can not simply put that aside" GroenLinks councilor Arno Bonte said to ANP. "It seems the mayor hasn't read the National Ombudsman's report. Or that he deliberately closed his eyes tot he critical conclusions. Instead of announcing a protest ban, introspection is in order."