Hamza B.: 20 years for Amsterdam gang war double homicide

The Moroccan judge yesterday sentenced Hamza B. to 20 years in prison. B. was involved in a double homicide and triple attempted murder in Staatsliedenbuurt in Amsterdam on December 29th, 2012. The prosecutor demanded the death penalty earlier that day, which in practice means life in prison.

The shooting in Staatsliedenbuurt is not an isolated occurrence. It was the third, and so far most violent, attack in the still ongoing gang war in Amsterdam. Two weeks ago Luana Luz Xavier was murdered in Amstelveen. It was uncertain whether the case against the 27 year old B. would be handled by the Moroccan court yesterday. The case was postponed the previous five times, partly because B. several times appointed a new lawyer at the last minute.

On Tuesday B.'s lawyer again tried to get a delay, but the judge quickly decided that the case was ready to be handled. The hearing started at 14:30. Two and a half hours later the prosecutor demanded the death penalty. And at 19:30 the judge came back with a verdict. Hamza B. was sentenced to an unconditional prison sentence of 20 years. He also has to pay 10 thousand euros in compensation to his victims. He did not receive the death penalty because of "extenuating circumstances". Exactly what those circumstances are was not explained last night. B. still maintains that he is innocent.

According to the prosecutor, Hamza B. drove the Audi from which shots were fired in Staatsliedenbuurt two years ago. Two people died. The third target, Benaouf A., managed to escape. They also fired at two motorcycle officers. B.'s DNA was found in the driver's seat. Benaouf A. stated that he heard in the circuit that B. was the driver. When the first suspect in the Staatsliedenbuurt executions, Adil A., was arrested in early 2013, B. immediately fled to Morocco. According to him, he did not flee. The Dutch Moroccan was already planning to go to his parents' country. "My grandfather was sick." B. possesses both a Dutch and Moroccan passport.

B. is one of six suspects in the Staatsliedenbuurt executions and the only one who fled to Morocco. Three others, Adil A., Anouar B. and Stefan S., are expected to be tried in the Netherlands in March. Naoufal B. is also regarded as a suspect, but Justice currently does not have sufficient evidence to prosecute him. The sixth suspect, Derkaoui van der Meijden, was murdered last summer.

The conflict in the Amsterdam underworld revolves around 200 kilograms of missing cocaine. There are basically two camps that can be distinguished: the group around the (now murdered) career criminal Gwenette Martha and the group around Benaouf A., the intended victim of the Staatsliedenbuurt executions. Last month A. was sentenced to 10 years in prison for involvement in the murder of Najeb Bouhbouh on October 18th, 2012.