Suspects acquitted in second Dutch ‘terror trial’
5 June 2003
AMSTERDAM — All 12 terrorist suspects on trial in Rotterdam were acquitted on Thursday of recruiting volunteers for Jihad, an Islamic holy war.
The ruling came as a blow for the prosecutor, who had alleged that 10 of the 12 suspects were members of a criminal gang that helped recruit, train and support volunteers for a holy war against the west.
Several of the 12 men on trial — Libyan, Egyptian, Algerian, Moroccan, Iraqi and Turkish nationals — were suspected of having trained for holy war to assist the Al Qaeda network and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
To help finance the organisation, the gang was allegedly involved in the smuggling of cocaine. The gang also forged passports and identification documents and helped organise travel plans of jihad volunteers, the prosecutor alleged. The suspects were arrested in April and August 2002.
Charges of assisting the enemy (Al Qaeda and the Taliban) during a time of war — a charge not used since crimes relating to World War II — were dropped against most suspects after the trial started because the prosecution did not have sufficient evidence.
And the court ruled on Thursday that insufficient evidence had been laid on the table to justify convictions on nearly all of the other charges, Dutch associated press ANP reported.
It sentenced just two of the suspects to jail terms, handing down a two-month term against Frenchman A. O. for the possession of a false passport, while Algerian T. B. received four months for the possession of forged travel document and for committing forgery.
The ruling comes as a blow to the prosecution, which also had charges dismissed against four terrorist suspects by the same court in December. The suspects had been accused of plotting to bomb the US embassy in Paris.
The prosecution arrested the suspects in both cases based on evidence supplied by the Dutch secret service, AIVD. But in the first trial, the court refused to accept AIVD evidence because it did not reveal its source of information and Justice Minister Piet-Hein Donner is considering a legislative change if the appeals court confirms the original ruling.
Last year’s ruling had immediate implications for the second trial when the court ruled on the first day of the new trial that the AIVD information sources must again remain secret on grounds of national security.
Despite Thursday’s acquittals, seven of the 12 suspects are still being detained because they were illegal residents in the Netherlands at the time of their arrest. The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) said the men would be deported.
The prosecution admitted that it was disappointed with the acquittals and will appeal the ruling.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news