The law

It’s been an interesting couple of days for the public prosecution department, with two high-profile trials ending just in time for the holiday break.

Today, the public prosecution department can congratulate itself in proving its case against Willem Holleeder – sentenced to nine years in jail after being found guilty of blackmailing three people.
The department had a lot riding on this trial, which has generated more than its fair share of headlines since it began in April: a mortar attack on the court-room at the start of the trial, Holleeder’s ill health and the mysterious drugs-related death of a key witness. The two prosecutors can be praised for keeping their cool.
Yesterday, however, it was a different matter. Judges launched a stinging attack on the department after it emerged that secret recordings of conversations between Hells Angels and their lawyers had been transcribed and kept in evidence files – strictly against the rules.
The judges were so angry that they said this deliberate breach of the law – not a ‘blunder’ as much of the Dutch press is saying – was more serious than the crimes which the Hells Angels were charged with.
The department can congratulate itself on the Holleeder verdicts. But it must also make sure that yesterday’s reprimand does not get forgotten in today’s celebrations.

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