The Hague – A Dutch judge on Thursday said that three teenage footballers accused of beating a linesman to death should be kept behind bars for another fortnight for police to probe the brutal killing.
“Two 15-year-old boys and a 16-year-old from Amsterdam, suspected of the death of a 41-year-old linesman... will remain in detention for two more weeks,” the Lelystad district court said in a statement.
The three appeared before a judge in the town near Amsterdam following Sunday's attack at an amateur game that has shocked football-mad Netherlands, where some 1,2 million people out of a population of 16.5 million are members of national football federation KNVB.
Linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen, 41, of the Buitenboys club in Almere died in hospital the day after being assaulted following a match against Amsterdam's Nieuw Sloten club. The three boys were arrested at their Amsterdam homes on Monday morning.
“They face charges of manslaughter, assault and public violence,” Lelystad district court spokesman Paul van Daalen earlier told AFP, adding they were being held at a youth detention facility but declining to say where.
If convicted, the two 15 year olds would serve a maximum sentence of one year in a youth prison.
The 16 year old could be jailed for a maximum two years, unless judges rule that he should be tried as an adult and face a stiffer penalty.
The precise charges will be refined based on the results of an investigation by police and prosecutors, added Brigit Haan, spokeswoman for the Lelystad Prosecutor's Office.
“There are many things we need to investigate,” she told AFP.
Dutch popular daily De Telegraaf reported on Thursday that the fatal beating may have been caught on camera by the sister of the Buitenboys goal-keeper who was taking pictures at the match.
The murder prompted Dutch football federation KNVB to call off all 33,000 of this weekend's amateur matches, with professionals holding a minute's silence and players wearing black armbands.
Former Dutch international player and current Feyenoord manager Ronald Koeman said it might have been better if professional Dutch matches had also been cancelled this weekend.
“Perhaps professional football should have joined this statement,” he told radio programme Evers Staat Op. “I think that would have made the statement sink in deeper.”
“You don't just see this in football. I think that it's a big problem in society with the upbringing of the youth of today,” he said.
Players at the opening match of the Club World Cup in Yokohama between Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Auckland City FC observed a minute's silence Thursday in Nieuwenhuizen's memory, Fifa said on its website.
The Buitenboys club said on its website that a silent march in Nieuwenhuizen's memory set for Sunday would only be for local football club members and invited guests, following a request from the family. – Sapa-AFP