Holland A.L.F. Activists Busted!
from No Compromise Issue 4
 

By Rochelle Holland, Special to No Compromise

ALKMAAR, HOLLAND -- At around 6 in the morning on 25 March 1996, two separate teams of police officers entered the houses of Erik van der Laan, 20, and Frank Kocera, 25, in Amsterdam. A third team entered the house of Erik's parents in another city (knowing full well that Erik had recently moved to Amsterdam). They searched all three houses. Both Frank and Erik, who were at home in bed, were arrested. The police also took Frank's shoes, about 200 cassettes, most of his animal rights literature and anything else that they thought might be connected to the arson attacks and vandalism which they suspected the two men of committing.

Friends and family were not informed as to the men's whereabouts. All police stations contacted denied that the men were being held there. After much research and persistence it was discovered that the men were being held separately in different cities. They were not being given vegan food and Erik did not eat for the first 5 days because he was only being served slabs of flesh.

THE INTERROGATION

The day after the arrest and after a full day's questioning Frank finally gave in and confessed to the arson attacks, after being confronted with an overwhelming amount of proof that the police had relating to their case. The police were tougher on Frank as they suspected him of being the "leader". He was not informed of and did not know that he could choose his own lawyer, he also did not know that he could exercise his right to remain silent.

I know it is hard to imagine that they were so naive, but hopefully others will learn from these mistakes.

THE BEGINNING

Frank and Erik were active from 1993 onwards. They started off gluing locks at McDeath in their home town. They have confessed to approximately 28 counts of economic sabotage and attempted economic sabotage. One, which was to be their last arson attack in Schiedam caused over $1.5 million damage, and closed the slaughterhouse for at least 6 months. Anyone who has ever questioned the necessity of the A.L.F. has to admit that damage -- UNINSURED damage of such a huge sum -- causes animal murderers many sleepless nights and can put them out of business. Another attack, at a warehouse for game and poultry carcasses, resulted in $150,000 damage.

HOW THE POLICE FOUND THEM

Their brief careers as activists with the newly formed Dutch wing of PETA would lead to them being followed, filmed, their phone tapped and their eventual arrests. It happened on 13 February of 1994, the two men, then living in separate cities were both arrested while protesting the live transport of calves from England to Dutch slaughterhouses via Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. The police had not yet made the connection that both men were close friends, and that though living in Amsterdam, Frank was born and raised in the same place as Erik. It did not take the police long to find out. By December 1995 a special RAT task force had been formed. They received assistance from the special "observation team", the DBRZ, who were specialized in tracing and following "terrorist" groups in Holland. The activists were using bottles with the brand name REAL COOL which were only available in their local supermarket around the corner from where Frank was living and NOWHERE else in the entire area of North-Holland. Incense sticks and firecrackers were used as wicks to ignite the bottles which were filled with gasoline.

SOME OF THE DUO'S ACTIONS

A brief summary of a few of the acts of economic sabotage:

End March 1995, a butcher gets gasoline poured through the letterbox in his butchery. A few streets away a meat transport trucks is burned to the ground. The police would later install a camera to film any illegal activity, should the culprits return.

At a livestock show in 1995, a bomb threat was received in the name from a group called RAT (RAT stands for Right Animal Treatment, one of two signatures that the men used). Later, in June an attempted arson attack on a ritual slaughterhouse followed with the warning "watch out, concentration camp".

A week later the locks are glued at many butchers stores and the windows covered in stickers with slogans, including the butcher who had previously been visited in March and who had his camera on at the time of the "attack", apparently nothing tangible appeared on the tape due to "atmospheric interference".

On October 22, 1995 a truck used to transport elephants for notorious animal abusers Circus Krone is burnt to the ground.

5 November 1995, 5 trucks from a meat processing plant in Amstelveen are burnt to the ground, the slogan "animals are helpless" was left to explain the actions. 6. 26 November 1995 the same thing happens, this time in Leiden (close to the Hague)Ô rom the RAT's.
THE PHONEBOX TAP

The equivalent of the Dutch FBI -- the CRI -- finally got hard proof of what they said were telephone calls from RAT claiming responsibility for the arson attacks. This proof came from a separate police corps (in the Hague area) who had nothing to do with the case. On February 16 the Hague DA granted the RAT team permission to listen to the recordings. There are allegedly three recordings, all to the press from RAT in a male voice on the nights of 1/10/95, 5/11/95 & 26/11/95. All calls were made from one telephone box on Frank's street. WHY, the Hague police were tapping that particular telephone box remains a mystery (!).

The tapes had to be examined, and the arrest would be 5 weeks later, and a month after the last attack in Schiedam where the two men caused the most damage of their short but fruitful career of A.L.F. activity. Interesting to note is that the police allegedly did not even have any dirt on RAT regarding the last attack, there was nothing in the case file about it and it only came to their attention when Frank confessed to it. Frank gave as the reason for confessing to everything that he was proud of what he did and wanted the world to know. He did it for the animals.

Despite their naivete and innumerable silly mistakes (they obviously aren't professional criminals), the two men caused an extraordinary amount of damage to the meat industry, and their case is definitely drawing attention to the plight of animals. We have been getting support from all over Holland, and surprisingly welfare groups who were criticizing the A.L.F. in the press before the arrests, came to show their support at the court on 25 June. The usually moderate animal groups seem to be getting more militant.

Best of all, the attacks on the meat industry have not abated. Since their incarceration, there have been more reports of activity by another A.L.F. cell. Briefly: a slaughterhouse received a bomb threat (false naturally) and had to evacuate the premises while the police searched for something that was not there.

FORMING HOLLAND'S A.L.F. SG

We formed the A.L.F. Supporters Group out of necessity . The two men are being defended by Holland's second best lawyer who even though he is doing the case at a fraction of his regular, inflated fee, is still very expensive. Why the best? With the two men facing a suspected recommended sentence of up to 7 years, we need someone good to fight it down to a lesser sentence. Their first trial date was 25 June, supporters piled into the court and greeted the men with a loud applause. After 30 minutes of charges being read out, the men's lawyer ask that the case be suspended pending psychological tests on the defendants. It was agreed and the next trial date was set for September 10, 1996.

Besides needing an SG to help arrested A.L.F. activists, another reason for forming the group is that we think that it is time the A.L.F. get the respect they deserve here and everywhere, and we want to educate people about what is happening to animals. We now are publishing a newsletter which includes interviews with A.L.F. prisoners, articles on straight-edge and veganism, etc.

SENTENCING

On September 24, Frank Kocera (25) and Erik VanDerLaan (21) were sentenced to 3 and 2 1/2 years in prison respectively, with no chance of early parole. Both men have been on remand in an Amsterdam jail since March of this year. This time will be deducted from their sentence.

Frank and Erik caused 2.7 million guilders ($1.35 million) direct damage to the industry, and 3 million guilders indirect damage. They also succeeded in immobilizing a slaughterhouse for 6 months after an arson attack. The two confessed to 28 counts of arson and vandalism, but were charged with only three. The other 25 will not be pursued.

Two weeks prior to the sentence, the prosecution demanded a 5 year sentence for Frank and 4 years for Erik.

DURING THE TRIAL

Defense Attorney G. Spong requested that the case be dismissed, because Kocera and VanDerLaan had sustained numerous human rights violations by the authorities who had kept them under intense observation for months leading up to their arrest.

Spong also drew comparisons to Nazi Germany, saying that had an arsonist burned down Auschwitz, he/she would be considered a hero. He continued by saying that the two men believe that the meat industry is an Auschwitz for animals and they were motivated to protest this in the only way they knew how.

The prosecution demanded a stiff sentence to serve as a deterrent and also as punishment for what she called "terrorism against a legal industry". Spong stated that only an individual with no morality could consider the meat industry a legal and normal industry.

The two men stated in court that they were regretful of the method (arson) they used, but were still firmly committed to animal rights. They are Holland's first animal rights prisoners.

The good news is that other A.L.F. cells have popped up and since the men's incarceration there have been other acts of economic sabotage against the meat industry!

Never, EVER Talk to the Authorities!

Committing A.L.F. actions is nothing to be ashamed of. However, they are not something you talk about either -- especially to the authorities. Frank and Eric got off lucky with five years and four years in prison considering all that they confessed to.

People need to understand there is absolutely no reason to talk to the authorities about the crimes you have committed. Most convictions result because the criminal confess their crimes to the police. Intuitively, that sounds stupid. What could possibly be the motivation to confessing? Confessing can't help you, and it does hurt you.

So if you are ever picked up by the authorities, or they show up at your door asking questions, reply "No Comment" or "I have nothing to say to you." Answer all questions "No Comment" and exercise your right to remain silent.

Do not try to outwit the authorities. They are trained to extract information from people using numerous strategies -- good cop, bad cop; leading questions; warming up to you, and pretending things will be better if you just speak; making threats, etc. Now these tricks might sound ridiculous, but given the heightened state of emotional stress people are usually under, they often work. The authorities also have numerous ways to "trip you up" by finding inconsistencies in your stories and alibis. Sometimes a seemingly insignificant information will be used against you or a friend.

Your best bet is to NOT TALK. It is much easier to fight a criminal charge that you haven't confessed to doing. And regardless of what they say, your silence cannot be used as proof of your guilt. It is merely an assertion of your civil liberties. Don't talk. It is your right. Use it and stay free!