Dutch justice system under fire for phone tap error
Police investigating a gang murder tapped a telephone in an Amsterdam prison and ended up with recorded confidential calls made between prisoners and lawyers.9 July 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - The current affairs TV programme NOVA has revealed another gaffe by the Public Prosecutor's Office.
Between September and December 2007, police investigating a gang murder tapped a telephone in one of the wings of the Bijlmerbajes, the main prison complex in Amsterdam.
However, new findings reveal that in addition to recording telephone calls made by suspects in the murder case, confidential calls made on that phone between other prisoners and their lawyers were also recorded.
The recordings were not destroyed as the law requires them to be kept on a hard disk and on 19 DVDs.
This breach of the rules came to light when Leon van Kleef, the lawyer of the suspect in the murder case, requested copies of some of the calls relevant to his client's case. Instead, he received copies of all the recorded calls.
Speaking on NOVA, he commented: "The Public Prosecutors' Office doesn't seem very interested in the letter of the law as long as their own interests are served. This is just one jail, what might be happening in the others?"
A spokesman for the Amsterdam justice authorities admitted that an error had been made.
In 2007, in a case against the Amsterdam chapter of the Hell's Angels, the judge ruled the Public Prosecutor's evidence inadmissible and dismissed the case when it was discovered that a whole slew of confidential conversations had not been destroyed as required.
The Association of Criminal Lawyers believes this is the "tip of the iceberg" and wants the rules changed to make it impossible for the police to listen to or record conversations between lawyers and their clients.
The Socialist Party has asked Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin for a written explanation of the affair.
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]