AMSTERDAM (AP) — The trial for seven teenagers and an adult charged with manslaughter after an attack on a volunteer football linesman at a youth match began on Wednesday.
Richard Nieuwenhuizen's death shocked the football-crazy Netherlands and prompted soul-searching about the parenting of young athletes, as well as about violence in the sport.
The hearing in Lelystad, Netherlands, is mostly closed to the media due to the young age of most of the suspects. It began with testimony from four different forensic experts debating the exact cause of Nieuwenhuizen's death.
The fatal incident took place on Dec. 2 in the northern Dutch city of Almere, after the home team Buitenboys drew 2-2 against the visiting Nieuw Sloten, which is based in a mostly immigrant neighborhood of Amsterdam.
Nieuw Sloten players confronted Nieuwenhuizen after the match. What happened next is not clear. Nieuwenhuizen was photographed lying on the ground shortly afterward. Eyewitnesses said he was kicked and punched in the head and neck.
He initially seemed to recover and shrugged off questions about whether he would file a complaint, but he later collapsed and died in hospital the following day.
The Netherlands' National Forensics Institute concluded he was killed as a result of injuries sustained during the attack.
Each of the defendants has his own lawyer. They are expected to argue that Nieuwenhuizen, who was 41, had an underlying condition that contributed to his death or caused it.
Gerard Spong, one of the Netherlands' most prominent criminal defense attorneys, summoned British forensics expert Christopher Milroy to testify that Nieuwenhuizen may have suffered from a rare genetic condition that weakened his aorta.
Dutch expert Bela Kubat said there was no evidence for that, and that damage to Nieuwenhuizen's aorta was explained by his injuries.