Sunday 28 November 2021

Video links and no family lawyers: minister shakes up gangland trials

Statue of justice.


The government has published a package of measures which it says are necessary to tackle the threat posed by organised crime – including the introduction of video links for major criminals rather that court appearances.

This, justice minister Sander Dekker said in a briefing to MPs, would mean police no longer have to carry out complicated security procedures to ensure serious criminals appear in court in person.

Dekker also wants to ensure that inmates in high security prisons see two lawyers at the same time, rather than one. This, he said, is to avoid situations in which single lawyers can be used to communicate with the outside world.

The government also wants to stop lawyers representing people with whom they have a close family or personal tie and has urged the bar association to talk about the options.

The planned changes come in the wake of the Ridouan Taghi gangland case. One of the lawyers representing Taghi is his nephew, and has been arrested on suspicion of communicating with the outside world on Taghi’s behalf.

The aim of the changes, says Dekker, is to stop suspects communicating with each other. ‘These are serious criminals with a lot of power and resources, who are willing to do everything to continue their illegal activities,’ Dekker said. ‘That is a major threat to our security. This extraordinary group of detainees requires an extraordinary approach.’

The minister has also decided that the high security court in Amsterdam will be replaced by one in Lelystad. A new high security prison and court complex is also being built in Vlissingen.

The changes will be sent to parliament for review on Monday.

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