The criminal court in Mechelen ruled on Thursday about a group of supporters of KV Mechelen who participated in so-called freefights. In remote places they fought in an organized manner with hooligans from other football clubs. One of them received a prison sentence, the others a community service order.
The police accidentally came across the freefighters. When reading a mobile phone in another file, investigators found a group called ‘Bospeloton’ in the messaging app Telegram. It contained seventeen supporters of KV Mechelen who were talking about it freefights. These are organized fights between hooligans from football clubs. The group discussed, among other things, their t-shirts with the inscription ‘Malinwa Hooligans’.
The seventeen members were summoned for their involvement in four freefights in Sint-Truiden, Wetteren, Sinaai and in Brussels. They competed against hooligans from Louvière, Sint-Truiden, Club Brugge and Cercle Brugge. “Because it was organized, for us it is an association of criminals. This freefights are punishable, even if everyone gives permission,” the public prosecutor said during the hearing of the case in November.
Several lawyers for the fighters invoked the sports exception and therefore requested the acquittal for their client. “When fighting takes place within the walls of a boxing club, it is justified. In fact, there are few differences with what happened here,” said lawyer Jomme Vaganée. “It is a kind of sporting activity where there is also respect for each other.”
Clear rules of the game
“Afterwards, everyone shakes hands and sometimes they even go to a café together,” say lawyers Saïd Aboulakil and Frédéric Thiebaut. “There is permission from all parties, there are clear rules and everyone behaves like a sportsperson. In addition, there are similarities in terms of age, there are referees present and there is a sports uniform that is worn. No weapons may be used.”
The court sentenced the group’s leader to six months in prison. This is in addition to a sentence he was imposed in Brussels for similar offences. Ten members were given community service orders of between 60 and 80 hours and six others were suspended.