Prison phone tap threatens court cases

Hundreds of court cases may end up being abandoned because justice ministry officials have again failed to destroy secret recordings made of phone calls between crime suspects and their lawyers.

TV show Nova revealed on Tuesday night that police and public prosecution department workers tapped a phone in a section of the Amsterdam Bijlmerbajes prison where people are held pending a court hearing. The tap, which ran between September and December last year, was part of an investigation into a gangland killing.
Everyone using the phone, not just those under investigation, was recorded, including conversations with lawyers. That is allowed under Dutch law, provided the recordings are destroyed immediately to protect confidentiality.
In this case, however, the recordings were kept on a computer hard disc and on 19 dvds. One prisoner facing murder charges was sent the dvds to his cell, Nova reported.
Last year, a case against a number of Hells Angels collapsed because secret recordings between suspects and their lawyers had not been destroyed. Judges said the public prosecution department had ‘seriously… and repeatedly broken the rules’.

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