Toxic atmosphere in Marengo process – NRC


Dislike, mistrust, delay, a conflict about an iPhone. The atmosphere between the parties to the proceedings in the mega-trial Marengo has fallen below zero after 2.5 years of litigation. The criminal case against Ridouan Taghi and sixteen co-defendants, which revolves around six murders and several attempts, continues this week with a thirteenth interim session.

The dormant disagreement between prosecutors and lawyers came to the fore when the Public Prosecution Service added a lengthy story to the file in August about the statements of the crown witness. In it, a number of lawyers in the case were accused of leaking information to the underworld.

It came in addition to a quarrel that broke out in private at the beginning of August between the examining magistrate leading the investigation in the Marengo case and one of the defendants’ lawyers, Nico Meijering. Meijering had stated the name of that family member in a written request to hear a family member of crown witness Nabil B., as required by law. That was against the sore leg of the investigating judge. For the sake of security, she had proposed not to mention the names of vulnerable witnesses.

Meijering’s request was contrary to that agreement, according to the investigating judge. Prior to a hearing of crown witness Nabil B., it led to a fierce clash between the investigating judge and Meijering. When the investigating judge refused to apologize, Meijering decided to avenge her. That request was rejected, although the challenge room did show understanding in the judgment for the fact that Meijering felt he was being treated unfairly. He has not broken any agreements.

Word choices

The judgment of the challenge chamber summarizes the relationships well: “The tone of and word choices in the challenge request submitted, the correspondence, the documents submitted and the handling in and counselors – be on edge. ”

After that determination, the judges recommend that all professional parties ‘consult themselves on the tone they wish to use and the wording they wish to use’. ‘Respect for each other’s role’ is necessary to be able to continue the procedure properly.

This advice fell on deaf ears. The disagreement turned into explicit suspicion when three days after the challenge request it came out that Meijering and a colleague had been observed in 2019 by order of the Public Prosecution Service during a trip to Dubai, in the hope that this would lead to the whereabouts of the then still fugitive Ridouan Taghi. That turned out not to be the case, but that did not diminish the excitement about this very unusual investigation.

Also read: It different story about crown witness Nabil B.

The explanation of the Public Prosecution Service during an extra session could not calm the emotions. Lawyers submitted a long series of requests; both about the official report and about the leakage of information to the underworld and about the Dubai observation. The claims about the leak have all been rejected by the court. This matter thus seems to be off the table. But that does not apply to the observation in Dubai. The court rejected witness requests on this point, but asked for an official report in which numerous details about the observation must be included. That will therefore lead to a delay.

Previously challenged

What does not help is that the examining magistrate, who had previously been challenged by the defense, has recently resigned. Although the challenge room allowed her to continue, she finds that “statements by some counsel are beyond all standards of decency.”

This means, among other things, that planned interrogations of crown witness Nabil B. have not taken place. An important subject for those interrogations is an iPhone 5 that Nabil B. secretly used in his cell while he was negotiating his crown witness deal. The existence of that phone – Nabil B. has denied under oath that he had the device – came to light this spring when a lawyer fired by the crown witness reported it. The device was investigated and it appears that Nabil B. communicated with it about his crown witness deal and “looks back on crime that has taken place and persons associated with it”.

The decision to add some of the phone’s content, especially text messages, to the file has been challenged by his lawyers. They argue that the information on the device is confidential because it has been deposited with a lawyer. In principle, communication between lawyer and client is confidential. The court rejected this, and the lawyers turned to the Supreme Court. That too will lead to delays.

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