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It was a crisp autumn morning in early November and a day of hope for legal attorneys Peter Schouten and Onno de Jong, and journalist Saskia Belleman.

That they had all gathered on the Amsterdam Rechtbank — the town’s predominant courthouse — to learn how the courtroom deliberate to proceed with the investigation across the dying of their shut pal and colleague, Peter R. de Vries.

However simply earlier than noon, the courtroom dominated that all the case needed to be reheard early subsequent yr on account of authorized points linked to the emigration of a choose concerned within the case, and the invention of recent proof in July, which added a brand new layer of complexity.

With solemn and barely pissed off faces, they walked out of the courtroom after the announcement. 

A spokesperson for the de Vries household informed reporters that whereas they had been grateful to the courtroom for attempting to nail down the culprits, all the course of had been an ordeal for the household.

Belleman, a courtroom reporter at Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf shared the same sentiment, including that delaying the decision and now rehearing the case had additionally had a private affect on many courtroom and crime journalists like her.

“I used to be additionally pissed off by the thought that it needed to be accomplished yet again,” she informed DW.

“However alternatively, over the previous few weeks, I began realizing it is inevitable if there are new suspects who can inform us one thing extra about what occurred that night time, like who gave the order to tug the set off. Then it’s related to do it yet again,” she stated.

De Vries case caught up in a authorized mess

Peter R. de Vries, a famend crime reporter within the Netherlands, was gunned down in July 2021, sparking anger and spreading shock waves throughout the nation.

On the time of his dying, de Vries had been the confidant of Nabil B. — the crown witness who testified in an intensive legal trial generally known as Marengo in opposition to Ridouan Taghi, a Moroccan-Dutch drug mafia chief.

Prosecutors investigating the de Vries case suspect Taghi’s gang might be behind the homicide, making the yearlong trial a “authorized mess” in line with Peter Schouten.

“All people is intimidated by the drug gang — the police,  judges, the prosecutors,” Schouten, 65, a legal lawyer representing Nabil B, within the Marengo trial, informed DW.

Peter R. de Vries was gunned down in July 2021. An investigation into his homicide is ongoingPicture: dpa

Schouten defined how this intimidation, along with these two legal circumstances now being linked, had resulted in prosecutors withholding data to guard their witnesses, the attorneys of the accused demanding separate trials and a choose concerned within the case leaving the nation.

“Due to all this stress, errors had been made. However we have to legally man up in opposition to conditions like this, be taught from what’s going on right here and make adjustments within the regulation,” he stated.

Rule of regulation below menace within the Netherlands?

Throughout the European Union, the Netherlands is a rustic identified for upholding the rule of regulation and supporting  press freedom. However the homicide of de Vries and the complexity of the authorized procedures within the investigation have uncovered cracks within the Dutch rule-of-law system.

Each Schouten and his colleague Onno de Jong, who’re the primary attorneys of the crown witness within the Marengo trial, have been residing below police safety for over a yr, after they heard they had been on a dying record due to their work.

“After our colleague and pal de Vries was shot in July 2021, that was truly the second that our police safety grew to become very intense, involving bodyguards and armored automobiles. We’ve got now been below such safety for two-and-a-half years, and have change into used to it,” Schouten informed DW.

Cocaine and the ability of the Dutch medication mafia

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However such circumstances are “actually loopy” in line with Costanza, a younger Italian expat who at present lives in The Hague and did not wish to give her full identify.

“Everybody turns to the Netherlands because the prime instance of how nations can push ahead in legalizing medication,” she informed DW.

However she added that liberal legal guidelines have additionally made drug mafias thrive within the Netherlands, as in her residence nation, Italy.

“It opens your eyes to the entire actuality behind the way it has made the Netherlands change into a narco state, as a result of there hasn’t been a lot consideration on how authorities needs to be treating this within the justice system,” she added, referring to growing legal actions carried out by drug gangs.

Based on the 2021 International Organized Crime Index, the crime charge within the Netherlands is not but alarming. Out of 193 nations, it holds the 107th spot with a international criminality rating of 4.69, which has been calculated as a median of the variety of legal markets and legal actors on the earth.

The index additionally highlighted that a lot of the legal networks within the nation are concerned in street-level drug gross sales, prostitution and arms trafficking, and are concentrated primarily within the main cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. 

This was one of many causes why Schouten was eager to proceed overlaying the Marengo trial and deal with organized drug gangs, regardless of the dangers the case posed to his personal life.

“I could not stand the concern that was rising in society. We’ve got a rule of regulation within the Netherlands and in Europe which charts out how we battle in opposition to criminals, and the way we assure the rights of individuals and suspects. So for me it is very important proceed my illustration within the case,” he stated.

Saskia Belleman stated {that a} related sentiment additionally existed within the Dutch journalism group.

“My colleagues are actually adamant in writing about organized crime and revealing what’s taking place within the nation and the way harmful it’s and the way necessary it’s to battle organized crime. However we’re all extra cautious,” she informed DW.

“We do have a number of colleagues which might be being guarded 24 hours a day, seven days every week. They cannot do their job correctly as a result of they need to be guarded all day and all night time, which is horrible to expertise as a result of they reside below a glass jar and that’s scary,” she added.

A police van is seen outside the Amsterdam Courthouse
‘Criminality is not going to finish with a verdict. I believe we shall be coping with this for many years’: de JongPicture: Peter Dejong/ASSOCIATED PRESS/image alliance

Netherlands working with EU to ‘win the battle in opposition to organized crime’

With the de Vries case set to be reheard early subsequent yr, Schouten and de Jong have not misplaced hope. However each highlighted the urgency of discovering options each inside the nation and Europe to rectify authorized errors and defend individuals from crime.

“This isn’t Italy within the Nineteen Fifties, that is the Netherlands in 2022, the place we’re coping with organized crime. So it is a matter for all nations in Europe and never just for the Netherlands,” Schouten stated.

Whereas mafias in Italy have been thriving for the reason that early 1900s, in latest instances organized crime teams have popped up throughout the EU, in line with a 2021 report by the Europol, the EU crime company. 

The report highlighted that near 40% of the legal networks lively within the EU are concerned within the commerce of unlawful medication. Furthermore, it stated 65% of the legal teams lively within the bloc are additionally composed of members of a number of nationalities. 

Dutch Justice and Safety Minister Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius informed DW that the Netherlands is collaborating with different European nations like neighboring Belgium to “win the battle in opposition to organized crime.”

“We’re investing a further €700 million ($744 million) plus structurally within the coming years and securing the system and individuals who work in  tackling organized crime like attorneys, journalists and native officers and directors,” she stated in an electronic mail.

However in line with de Jong, the battle goes to be a protracted one.

“Criminality is not going to finish with a verdict. I believe we shall be coping with this for many years and naturally, the federal government is attempting to battle this. However in that side, we’ve got to appreciate that we must always preserve the stability in our justice system intact,” he informed DW.

“So when you battle crime exhausting, be sure to give the defendants and the suspects what they want: ‘a superb protection,’” he stated.

Edited by: Rob Mudge

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Are drug gangs threatening rule of law in the Netherlands? – DW – 12/27/2022 | thefastnewz

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