FECL 52 (December 1997):


More than 700 people were arrested and detained by the Dutch police during the EU Summit in Amsterdam in June. Many of them were accused of "participation in a criminal organisation" according to Article 140 of the Dutch Penal Code (see FECL No.51: "Mass arrests at the Amsterdam EU-Summit" and "Police operation at Amsterdam Summit: a test run of political policing in the EU?"). The mass arrests and, particularly, their bizarre legal motivation drew protests in the Netherlands and abroad, and leading Dutch jurists strongly questioned their lawfulness.

Five months later, in mid November, Amsterdam's Chief Public Prosecutor Vrakking announced at last that all charges under Article 140 of the Dutch Penal Code (participation in a criminal organisation) have been dropped. A week later, a committee of experts, mandated by the Amsterdam Municipal Council to inquire into the controversial police operation, presented its report. The report finds all mass arrests during the EU Summit were illegal.

Reacting to the above, a professor of criminal law and criminology at the University of Maastricht, Mr Mols, called for the resignation of public prosecutor Vrakking. Mr Mol's demand was backed by seven other leading Dutch professors of criminal law. On his part, Public Prosecutor Vrakking is not showing any remorse. He said on TV that if there where a EU Summit in Amsterdam tomorrow, he would do exactly the same as in June.

In the meantime, a number of Dutch organisations and individuals, affected by the police operation, have brought a criminal complaint against Mr Vrakking, Amsterdam's mayor, Schelto Patijn, and the chief of the police, for being "leaders of a criminal organisation aimed at deliberately violating basic rights and depriving people of their freedom".

Their is still no official answer to the question of whether the personal data of people detained at the Summit have been stored in the Schengen Information System or otherwise been communicated to police abroad, and if so, whether these data have been deleted after the Dutch authorities' decision to drop the charges.


Source: Autonoom Centrum, Amsterdam, November 97.