Dutch key witness pulls out of underworld murder trial

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The key witness of 11 contract killings cases, Peter la Serpe, will not be co-operating with the prosecution team.

Amsterdam – The key witness in a major criminal court case in Amsterdam has withdrawn his co-operation with the prosecution team.

Peter la Serpe is embroiled in a conflict with the public prosecutor's office over his protection as a witness. Two weeks ago he announced through his lawyer that he had lost confidence in the police team that is supposed to protect him and his family.

De Volkskrant describes "Dirty Peter is becoming an awkward customer" and outlines his grievances in his own words: "The Witness Protection Team is offering me no money, no safety and no future. I'm being held hostage in a paradox. One half of the public prosecutions service wants me to testify, while the other is holding a gun to my head by denying me my safety."

He said unless the degree of protection was improved he would refuse to give any more evidence.

La Serpe, alias 'Dirty Peter', is a key witness in cases concerning 11 contract killings in the organised criminal underworld.

Having confessed to a killing, he struck a deal with the public prosecutor's office in return for giving evidence in other cases. In return, he would have his sentence halved and be provided with personal protection and a new identity after his release.

Public broadcaster NOS reports that the trial has been adjourned until 4 June to allow time for prosecutors to carry out further negotiations with la Serpe.

Meanwhile, de Volkskrant and AD report the police have also launched an investigation into gestures made by one of the suspects. They think he may have used sign language at one of the hearings to order his family member to commit a murder.

Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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