Prosecutors demand life sentences for leaders of Dutch gang

Jun 27, 2022, 7:03 PM | Updated: Jun 28, 2022, 7:04 am

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Dutch prosecutors demanded life sentences Tuesday for five alleged gangsters accused of six murders, four attempted murders and plotting four more hits, in a long-running trial that exposed the grim reality of the Netherlands’ violent criminal underworld.

Prosecutors sought sentences ranging from nearly six years to almost 27 years for 11 more defendants as the marathon trial of lead suspect Ridouan Taghi and several of his alleged accomplices drew toward its close in a closely guarded Amsterdam courtroom. The sentence demand for another suspect will be made later.

The Public Prosecution Service said in a statement that the defendants were part of a “completely unscrupulous murder organization, which has carelessly and indifferently killed people.” They said the fallout of the multiple slayings had “not only been felt for the next of kin, but have also had after effects more broadly in society.”

Taghi was one of the Netherlands’ most-wanted men until he was arrested in Dubai in 2019 and flown home to face trial. His lawyers and attorneys for the other suspects will address the court before judges retire to consider their verdicts.

Prosecutors said the gang reveled in slayings carried out to consolidate its power and prevent people from betraying its members to police.

“It is shocking to read how the suspects shared their joy at a successful murder with each other” in encrypted phone messages, the prosecution statement said, “with shouts of ‘Whoopwhoop’ and other expressions of joy. A human life was treated as a disposable item.”

Part of the evidence against the gang came from a witness who testified in return for a reduced sentence. The witness, identified only as Nabil B., was previously represented by a lawyer who was murdered in Amsterdam in 2019. Two men were sentenced last year to 30 years for that murder, but judges in the case said they could not link the contract killing directly to Taghi’s gang.

Crime reporter Peter R. de Vries, who was gunned down in Amsterdam last year, acted as a confidant to Nabil B. Two men stood trial in his slaying. Prosecutors demanded life sentences for both, but have not said who they believe ordered De Vries’ killing. Judges are due to deliver verdicts on July 14.

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Prosecutors demand life sentences for leaders of Dutch gang