Hells Angels trial resumesat ‘secret’ Rotterdam venue
1 February 2005
AMSTERDAM — The trial of 15 Hells Angels gang members charged with the murder of three clubmates was moved to a secret location on Tuesday to guarantee the safety of the most important prosecution witness, who later identified the two men he believed responsible for the killings.
But within 90 minutes of the judges, lawyers, the prosecutor, defendants and journalists leaving from Amsterdam for the secret location, news agency Novum reported that the day’s proceedings were to be heard in the Paleis van Justitie, or Hall of Justice, in Rotterdam.
Monday’s start to the trial — the first time that so many Hells Angels gang members were placed on trial at the same time — was held in the high-security Amsterdam-Osdorp courthouse.
Although it is nicknamed the “bunker”, the building was considered insufficient to guarantee the safety of the main witness and it was decided to continue the trial on Tuesday at a secret location.
Paul de Vries, the president of the Nomads chapter of the Hells Angels, and two fellow members, Serge Wagener and Cor Pijnenburg, were found shot dead in a stream near the southern Dutch town of Echt on 13 February last year. Their bodies were riddled with bullet wounds.
The defendants are accused of conspiring to kill the men after a botched cocaine deal. The murders are thought to have carried out in the Oirsbeek clubhouse of the Hells Angels chapter and traces of blood from the three victims were found there despite an alleged cover-up renovation.
Star prosecution witness Angelo D. is a member of the Caribbean Brothers motorcycle gang in Curacao, a gang which is also affiliated to the Hells Angels. He was allegedly involved in the cocaine deal and also faces drugs charges.
The three victims were killed after allegedly stealing 300kg of cocaine. D. has accused the Nomads of carrying out the murders to ward off a conflict with Colombian drugs dealers who allegedly supplied the cocaine, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
He made a detailed police statement after he was allegedly kidnapped last year by two Nomads. The two gang members allegedly confessed the murders to D., who was rescued a short time later by police. But instead of being kidnapped, D. claims that he and a Curacao clubmate, John D., were simply interrogated by the two men.
And he identified the two men in court on Tuesday as Marco H. and Jack S., claiming also that they were possibly responsible for the cocaine theft. He also said Wagener and Pijnenburg might not have been involved in the theft, but were killed to show the Colombians that the culprits had been dealt with.
The Antillean has also asserted in a previous police statement that the Nomads were linked to two cocaine smuggling routes between the Netherlands and Colombia, which in turn led to heated conflicts. A power struggle is also believed to have developed within the Nomads gang.
Despite being uncertain whether all the suspects were involved in the triple murder, D. believes the entire club would have had prior knowledge of the killings. He has also said the murder of one of the three victims might have been a mistake.
The public prosecutor has charged D. for his involvement in the alleged cocaine deal, but is negotiating a possible deal with justice officials in exchange for his testimony.
The court ordered the prosecutor on Monday to clarify the situation as quickly as possible. Should D. agree to reveal all he knows, it is possible he will be placed in the witness protection programme.
Meanwhile, two suspects Harry R. and Swen S., are also accused of a fourth murder. The body of alleged drug dealer Steven Chocolaad was found in the Julianakanaal in Limburg in May 2003. But the court ruled on Monday that the case was not linked to the triple murder and ordered it adjourned.
One of the 15 suspects was ill on Monday, but the remaining 14 suspects all attended the hearing. A force of 50 police and security officers were also in attendance. The trial is expected to take up to four weeks.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news