FIVE Celtic fans were convicted last night of disorder and acts of violence against Dutch police during clashes in Amsterdam ahead of the Glasgow side’s fixture with Ajax earlier this month.
A court in the Netherlands found them guilty of various charges. A sixth supporter was acquitted. The convicted men were sentenced to between one and two months’ detention by the judge following a late-night hearing at Amsterdam District Court. All five were released pending an appeal.
Each of those convicted has also been ordered to pay compensation to the Dutch police officers of between €250 (£208) and €500.
Defence lawyer Kerem Canatan said after the hearing that the judge had concluded officers used force in dealing with the riot on 6 November, but that it had not been excessive.
Padraig Mullan, 28, from Belfast, and Damian Dobbin, 23, from Hamilton, were jailed for two months, Tam Kennedy, 30, from Lanarkshire, and Andy Vance, 21, from Blantyre, for six weeks and Joseph McPherson, 20, from Glasgow, for one month.
The sixth man, a 49-year-old from Kilmarnock, was acquitted of all charges.
Dobbin told the court he feared for his life when he was set upon by undercover officers ahead of the Champions League match. He said six or seven plain-clothed officers had attacked, leaving him bleeding in the city’s Dam Square.
The accused said they thought they were fighting Ajax “hooligans” and not police.
Dobbin said: “From nowhere, six or seven what we thought were hooligans came running from nowhere and basically attacked us.
“All we done was basically fight for our lives because I was on the ground, I was covered in blood.”
Mullan told the court: “All these guys dressed like hooligans with their hoods up and their coats zipped up came charging towards all of us … all the Celtic fans, and on the way past one of these guys ran past us and hit my girlfriend with his arm and knocked her to the floor. The guy went on and started attacking another Celtic fan.”
Defence lawyer Christian Visser, representing the six fans, had asked the judge to free his clients, arguing they had been subjected to disproportionate violence by plain-clothed police officers who mingled with the crowd at Dam Square before the match.
Mr Visser also claimed police statements were unreliable and failed to identify which fans had been involved in the clash.
The court heard the incident was triggered when a group of Ajax supporters stole and ran off with a Celtic supporter’s flag.
The accused said in their statements that they were unaware the individuals they fought with were police officers.
Vance and Mullan had spent more than two weeks in custody between the match and yesterday’s hearing.
Officers arrested 44 people during the incident, including 18 Celtic fans. Twelve supporters of the Parkhead side were previously released after each was fined up to €500, while another ten were sent home before the game.
Dutch police said eight plain-clothed officers had been injured in the incident, which resulted in riot police and mounted officers descending on Dam Square. The court was yesterday shown video footage of the clashes shared on YouTube. It showed a group of Celtic supporters chasing a man believed to be a plain-clothed police officer before attacking him.
Other footage taken from the city centre showed several men, believed to be plain-clothed officers, restraining Celtic fans before repeatedly kicking and punching them. Celtic have previously said they were investigating the incident and that the violence came after their fans had been “subjected to a high degree of provocation”.
On the night before the match, a large number of Ajax supporters attacked Celtic fans in the Old Sailor Café in Amsterdam’s red light district, with footage showing figures in masks smashing windows. Nine Dutch fans were arrested in the incident, which was caught on police CCTV.
Local TV station AT5 recorded an interview with a Celtic fan who sustained injuries to his face. He said: “Police came right through the middle, hitting everybody and anybody. If you weren’t quick to move out the way, that’s what you got.”
A police dog biting a Celtic fan in Dam Square was captured by an agency photographer.
After complaints of police behaviour, the Dutch public prosecutor received “video footage and photographic material of the disturbances”, which are being reviewed. Police in Amsterdam are “conducting an internal review of the incident”.
After the fixture, Ajax, who won 1-0, were hit with a £21,000 fine by football’s European governing body Uefa because their fans displayed an offensive banner with a sectarian message.
The club were punished for the “improper conduct” of the home support after initially facing a “discriminatory behaviour” charge.
The court awarded damages of €500 to one of six Dutch police officers who were injured in the incident and €250 each to three others.