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The ban on motorcycle club Hells Angels in the Netherlands must be reversed. If the Angels are accused of engaging in crime and violence, it must be attributed to individual members and not to that of the club or other members, Hells Angels lawyers argued in court on Wednesday.
The court in Utrecht banned the club last year, at the request of the Public Prosecution Service. The Angels have appealed against this.
Lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops said before the court in Arnhem that the Public Prosecution Service is wrongfully portraying the Hells Angels as a criminal organization. Justice, according to counsel, uses a media strategy that relies heavily on “tabloids from the gossip press and obscure, dubious websites”. The picture that arises from this is that the Angels pose a threat to public order.
That image is incorrect, says Knoops. His argument was reinforced in court by contributions from two members of the Angels. They denounced the “smear campaign” that the judiciary would have launched against the Hells Angels in order to kill the club. That campaign is creating a reputation for a collection of “murderers, looters and rapists”. The Angels believe that neither themselves nor their club should be the victim of members who engage in crime.
“I just go to work with my lunch box,” said one of them.
In the procedure that the Public Prosecution has started to have the Hells Angels banned in the Netherlands, it has mapped out nearly 1,500 incidents (worldwide) that must support the main argument for that ban: the Angels are not an association for tough Harley riders, but there is a strong, criminal culture of violence that bother society.
In its argument before the Arnhem court, the Public Prosecution Service cited, among other things, the liquidation of the Delft criminal Karel Pronk, for which a Hells Angel was convicted in June this year. The judiciary also pointed to escalating conflicts with rival motorcycle clubs and to an ongoing, international drug case in which Angels from Friesland figure as suspects.
The Hells Angels in the Netherlands has eighteen local chapters with a total of 241 members. The club was founded in the United States in 1948 by mainly former soldiers. About forty years ago the club also became active in the Netherlands.
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