Morocco's cooperation key to catching Ridouan Taghi: Dutch police chief

Ridouan Taghi
Ridouan TaghiPhoto: Politie

Dutch authorities said their counterparts in Morocco were essential to the eventual arrest of fugitive suspected crime boss Ridouan Taghi. The arrest, which took place in Dubai, could have been complicated by the lack of an extradition treaty between Dubai and the Netherlands, and would have been complicated further had Morocco also requested extradition due to allegations that Taghi ordered a 2017 cafe shooting in Marrakech where a medical student died and his classmate was injured.

Taghi, who turned 42 on Friday, was incarcerated at the maximum security facility in Vught pending trial.

"I have personally thanked my colleagues from Dubai and Morocco. The latter especially because we were able to work wonderfully with their people despite a chilly political relationship," said Erik Akerboom, the Chief of Police in the Netherlands, in a post on social media. Sources told Moroccan media outlet Hespress that Akerboom also expressed his gratitude to national security leader, Abdellatif Hammouchi.

"Teamwork is sometimes a tired concept, but it's the key to success in tackling 'undermining' crime," Akerboom said, referring to criminality that is used to undermine societal norms and the rule of law. "No criminal may remain untraceable and unassailable," he said directly referring also to Taghi.

Moroccan intelligence services tipped off Dutch and Dubaite authorities that Taghi was present in the Arab emirate, Hammouchi said according to media outlets in that country. This led to months of surveillance at a villa in a newly-built section of Dubai where Taghi was holed-up, curtains drawn, with no clear view as to who was entering or leaving the premises.

Meanwhile, investigators in Dubai discovered Taghi entered the country on a false passport, meaning he could be deported and handed over to Dutch officials instead of following a lengthy extradition procedure. Police in Dubai raided the property, arresting Taghi and a female friend without incident.

Within days he was flown back to Dutch soil. Taghi's first court appearance in the so-called Marengo criminal case could take place in February. Taghi was being prosecuted in that case in absentia.

The Marengo hearings involve the 2015 murder of Ronald Bakker, the 2016 murders of Samir Erraghib, Ranko Skecic, and crime writer Martin Kok, and the 2017 mistaken identity murder of Hakim Changachi. Taghi has been reportedly tied to several other killings as well.