'Violent' Hells Angels motorcycle club banned in the Netherlands

The country-wide ban is a first for the club that operates in more than 50 nations around the world, Dutch media says.

    Prosecutors had sought the ban in response to hundreds of incidents in the Netherlands [Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]
    Prosecutors had sought the ban in response to hundreds of incidents in the Netherlands [Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]

    A Dutch court on Wednesday banned the Hells Angels motorcycle gang in the Netherlands, saying it had a track record of violent crime including the killing of rivals, shoot-outs, and drug and weapon offences.

    Prosecutors had sought the measure in response to hundreds of incidents in the Netherlands.

    "The Hells Angels is a danger to the public order," the court in the central Dutch city of Utrecht ruled.

    "It's a club where there's a culture of lawlessness and the authorities are kept outside their doors," the court added in a statement.

    "The Hells Angels' profile is that of the largest and most powerful motorbike club. They believe other clubs should listen to them and that leads to long-running conflicts."

    The country-wide ban is a first for the club that operates some 470 chapters in more than 50 nations around the world, the Dutch public broadcaster NOS said. The Dutch ruling can be appealed.

    'Outlaw' image

    Founded as a motorcycle club in California in 1948, the Hells Angels are known for riding Harley-Davidson bikes, their denim-and-leather outfits, and their "outlaw" image.

    They gained notoriety in the 1960s with Hunter S Thompson's book "Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga" in which he befriended them but was later assaulted.

    Their dangerous reputation increased after the Rolling Stones' free concert at Altamont in 1969, where Hell's Angels were hired to provide security.

    One member was charged with murder over the stabbing death of concertgoer Meredith Hunter in front of the stage, although he was later acquitted.

    The gang is now believed to have thousands of members in dozens of countries. The gang is regarded by the US government as an international crime syndicate.

    The same court in Utrecht in 2017 banned the Hells Angels' arch-rivals, the Bandidos, for similar reasons.

    SOURCE: News agencies