Angels get six years for killing club president
17 March 2005, AMSTERDAM — Twelve Hells Angels were sentenced on Thursday to six years for the manslaughter of the president of the Nomads chapter of the motorbike club. Public prosecutor to appeal ruling.
17 March 2005
AMSTERDAM — Twelve Hells Angels were sentenced on Thursday to six years for the manslaughter of the president of the Nomads chapter of the motorbike club. Public prosecutor to appeal ruling.
Judges at the high-security Amsterdam-Osdorp courthouse — commonly referred to as the bunker — ruled that the public prosecutor (OM) had failed to prove 14 members of the Limburg bikers club had murdered De Vries.
The OM had argued that a "club decision" had been made to murder De Vries and two other members of the club. A star witness for the prosecution indicated the motive was the disappearance of a consignment of cocaine.
But the court also cleared all of the men of the murder of clubmates Cor Pijnenburg, 33, and Serge Wagener, 34. This is despite the fact that the judges accepted the pair were shot dead with De Vries as an argument in the Nomads clubhouse got out of hand in February 2004.
The victims' bullet-riddled bodies were later found in a stream near the southern Dutch town of Echt.
Prosecutors played a computer animation of the clubhouse during the trial earlier this year to illustrate the areas where traces of the men's blood were discovered.
The court also heard evidence that the building had undergone an extensive cleaning and renovation operation to get rid of any signs of the killings shortly after the men were killed.
In a complex ruling, the presiding judge said it could not be established who the shooter or shooters were, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
The judge said although this led to an extremely unsatisfactory finding, all the defendants had to be cleared of killing Pijnenburg and Wagener.
"The guilty have a lucky escape to ensure the innocent are not convicted. This is the high price that must be paid," the court said.
The court found that there was no evidence of a premeditated decision to kill the three. Instead, the court found it was clear there had been an argument between De Vries and several other Nomads at a weekly club meeting.
For some reason, the court said, the other two victims sided with De Vries only to be shot almost immediately. De Vries tried to escape by jumping out the window of the building, but was brought back to the meeting room and shot, the court said.
Earlier, three members of the motorbike club were cleared of the charges they faced. Originally 14 had been tried for the triple killing and one on charges stemming from an unrelated shooting.
Two other men, members of the Curacao-based Hells Angels chapter Caribbean Brothers, are accused of involvement in the botched cocaine deal. Their cases will be heard separately.
The main case centred on the murder of three members of the club who were shot and killed in February last year.
The 14 Hells Angels were accused of the murders — which allegedly took place in the Nomads clubhouse in Oirsbeek. The three victims — including De Vries — were killed after allegedly stealing a consignment of 300kg of cocaine from Colombian drug lords.
The public prosecutor demanded in Amsterdam Court on 18 February that the 14 suspects be sentenced to life in jail for the brutal triple murder.
The prosecutor has thus announced it will appeal the ruling. A spokesman said an appeal is "inescapable" because there were too many complicated issues left unanswered by the court.
The prosecutor said it was unacceptable that the suspects were convicted of manslaughter for killing De Vries, but were acquitted of the murder or manslaughter of the other two victims. This is especially due to the fact that the court assumes the shooters were also among the acquitted suspects.
But the spokesman said it was a positive element that the 12 suspects were held responsible for the death of De Vries.
The participation in the crime was ruled to be collective, meaning that membership of a club such as the Hells Angels — which adheres to customs and rules and whose members do not nark on each other — offers no protection.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news