Moroccan court bribed in Amsterdam gang assassination case: Report

There are very strong indications that the court in the Moroccan city of Tangier was bribed to give Amsterdam-Moroccan criminal Hamza B. a mild sentence for his role in the gang related assassinations in Staatsliedenbuurt on December 29th, 2012.

This is according to documents that the Dutch government sent to the Moroccan authorities several months ago, Het Parool reports. The Moroccan authorities have not responded.

According to the documents, B.'s family bribed the court and other authorities with 180 thousand euros. This resulted in the 27 year old B. being sentenced to 20 years in prison, instead of the life sentences his two co-defendants received in the Netherlands. The court later also received offers of 200 thousand euros and 160 euros to reduce the sentence even further. The president of the court that handled B.'s case allegedly mediated the bribes. He has since resigned as a judge to open a lawyers office.

Moroccan lawyer Abdessamad Lemrabet is now trying to get the court off the case, according to the newspaper. He defends the two motorcycle cops who were fired upon at close range from the getaway car that Hamza B. allegedly drove. The appeal is on Thursday's agenda. The lawyer sent a written request to the court in Tangier on Monday requesting that the proceedings be put on hold until the Supreme Court in Rabat has examined the evidence for corruption.

The first allegation of bribery came from Hamza B.'s ex-brother-in-law Abdelkhaliq Belhaj in the margins of a hearing of B.'s case in the court of Tangier in November last year. In March 2007 Belhaj narrowly survived a shooting in which he received 17 gunshot wounds. The police and Belhaj himself were convinced that Hamza B. was behind the shooting, but there was not enough evidence to support this.

The Dutch police and judicial authorities initially did not give much credit to Belhaj's accusations of corruption and bribery, partly because of the resentment Belhaj has for B. He was eventually questioned however, and gave a very detailed statement including names of people who could corroborate his accusations. A number of people he named confirmed his story, including a Moroccan prosecutor who told the authorities that he was offered a bribe to stall the case and was subsequently removed from the case. The Dutch investigators then informed the Moroccan Public Prosecutor.