Life in prison demanded against suspects in massive Amsterdam gang-murder trial

Crime scene (Photo: Politie)Crime scene (Photo: Politie)

Update: The Public Prosecutor demanded life in prison against four  suspects in the appeal of the massive Amsterdam gangland murders trial known as the Passage-process in court on Tuesday. The trial started in 2007 and is still going. It revolves around seven assassinations - mostly in the Amsterdam underworld - and 10 suspects. The 11th suspect Ali Akgun was assassinated in 2014, NOS reports.

The Prosecutor wants suspected assassins Jesse R., Mohammed R. and Siegfried S. to spend the rest of their lives in jail. A lifelong prison sentence was also demanded against Dino Soerel, who the prosecutor believes is one of the masterminids behind the assasinations involved in this case. The sentence demands were largely based on testimony given by keywitness and suspect Fred Ros.

In response to the demand, Dino Soerel read a statement to the court in which he accused the Prosecutor of using the lies told by two suspects turned witnesses and twisting it so that he can be sent to jail for life, according to reporter Saskia Belleman tweeting from within the courtroom. "The Prosecutor goes far beyond the line of truth. It does not matter how",  Soerel said, calling the Prosecutor's arguments "malicious nonsense". 

The other three suspects declined to comment.

It all started with the assassinations of Yogoslavs 19-year-old Djordje Ilic and 22 year old Samir Hadziselimovic in 1993. Their bodies were found in a burnto out car in a parking lot in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. That same year gym owner Tonnie van Maurik was shot dead in Amsterdam, followed by Henie Shamel and his girlfriend Anne de Witte in Antwerp. That was followed by a series of attempted assassinations and two more successful assassinations in 2005 and 2006 - Kees Houtman and Thomas van der Bijl were killed.

All these victims were associated with the Amsterdam underworld and drug trade.

The Public Prosecutor believes that a criminal organization sits behind these killings. They're made up of three groups of suspects - those who ordered the assassinations, those who organized them and those who pulled the trigger. 

The main suspected trigger man is contract killer Jesse R. He was convicted for his involvement in these killings and sentenced to life in prison when this case first went to trial. In a number of the assassinations he was assisted by Mohammed R. and Siegfried S. They two were sentenced to life in prison. Peter la S. was convicted of helping Jesse R. with murdering Kees Houtman and Thomas van der Bijl. La S. got a reduced sentence of 8 years after he turned witness in this same trial. Another suspected gunman is Sjaak B. He survived an assassination attempt in Panama last year. 

Fred Ross is suspected of being the middle man for the assassinations. According to the Prosecutor, he arranged the weapons, the gnmen and the payments for the assissinations of Kees Houtman and Thomsas van der Bijl. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. 

While these suspects performed the actual deeds, the killings were ordered and paid for by three other suspects. The Public Prosecutor is determined to get the order givers behin bars in this case. 

According to the Public Prosecutor Dino Soerel and his good friend Ali Akgun were key players in this whole affair. They are suspected of ordering Fred Ros to arrange the deaths of Kees Houtman and Thomas van der Bijl and for planning more assassinations. Willem Holleeder is the third key player, but he is not part of this trial. The Prosecutor believes he is the mastermind behind a number of assassinations. His case is going to trial separately. 

This case is also remarkable because the Public Prosecutor madde a deal with murder suspects in order to get to the key players. The first deal was made with Peter la S. In exchange for a reduced sentence, he told the Prosecutor, among other things, that Ali Akgun and Dino Soerel ordered Fred Ros to arrange the last two murders. Based on this statement the Prosecutor initially demanded life in prison against Soerel and Akgun. But they were acquitted of the assassinations due to lack of evidence.

The Prosecutor then turned to Fred Ros himself. Ros also stated that he received his orders from Soerel and Akgun. Ros is also a witness in the case against Willem Holleeder. He stated that Holleeder ordered Soerel to order the assassinations of Houtman and Van der Bijl, among others.

This is the first time the Dutch Prosecutor made a deal with criminals convicted of murders, and the decision to do so garnered a lot of criticism. 

Later today the Prosecutor will demand sentences in the appeal of this case. According to the broadcaster, it is expected that he will again demand life in prison against Dino Soerel. The big question is whether the court will consider the witness statements reliable. Ali Akgun was assassinated in Turkey in 2014 and can therefore not be sent to jail.