Date for Marengo gangland killing verdicts to be set next week

People waiting outside the court. Photo: Gordon Darroch

Amsterdam district court said on Friday that it will announce the date for the verdict in the giant gangland trial known as the Marengo process early next week.

Seventeen defendants are on trial, suspected of carrying out six murders and planning a dozen more between 2015 and 2017 in the so-called “Mocro mafia” drugs war.

The best known of the men on trial is Ridouan Taghi, 43, for several years the Netherlands’ most wanted man. He is believed to have built a major cocaine empire from a villa in Morocca, importing the drugs from South America into Rotterdam and then distributing it across Europe.

Earlier this year, Taghi’s lawyer, Inez Weski, was arrested on suspicion of helping her client run his drugs empire from prison. Charges against her are also pending.

Weski’s arrest postponed the trial’s verdict, originally scheduled for October, as Taghi looked for new lawyers.

His new lawyers asked the court for a nine-month extension to get familiar with the case file. Prosecutors, however, pushed back, pointing out that the trial had been completed before Wenski was arrested and there was no need for a delay.

Lawyers for the other defendants also opposed further delays and demanded their clients be released from pre-trial detention if the verdict were to be pushed back further.

The trial, which began in 2021, has been plagued by violence and corruption. A lawyer for a crown witness in the case, Derk Wiersum, was killed in 2019. Two men have been convicted of what the prosecution called a “gang-land hit” and sentenced to 30 years in jail.

Prosecutors also believe Taghi ordered the murder of investigative journalist Peter R de Vries, who was killed in 2021. Ten men have been charged in conjunction with his death.

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