The Haringen chapter of the Hells Angels motorbike club does not have to be banned and broken up, a court in Leeuwarden ruled on Tuesday. The court said that the public prosecution department had failed to prove that the organisation was such a threat to public order that the ‘ultimate deterrent’ – a ban – was legally justifiable.
Nor could the Harlingen group be held responsible for criminal acts by members of the gang elsewhere in the country, the court said. Just because some members had criminal records, did not mean the Hells Angels were a criminal organisation, the court ruled.
The public prosecution department (OM) is attempting to have the Dutch Hells Angels banned because of its criminal connections – in particular to drugs and illegal weapons – arguing such an organisation has no place in society.
The court’s decision will come as a severe blow to the OM. The Harlingen case was the first of seven such hearings nationwide and the first to reach a verdict. Other cases have been heard in Amsterdam, Haarlem, Alkmaar, IJmuiden, Rotterdam and Kampen.
The OM said immediately that it would appeal against the Leeuwarden ruling. It would do all it could to ensure the organisation was banned, a spokesman said.
Last week it emerged that several serving Dutch soldiers were also Hells Angels in their spare time.
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