Wiretap caught suspect in Amsterdam attorney's killing: Prosecutor; Defendant calls search unlawful
New details about Anouar T., a suspect linked to the daytime assassination of defense attorney Derk Wiersum, were revealed in a court appearance on Wednesday afternoon, with prosecutors revealing portions of a wiretapped conversation which they said are evidence T. was involved in the killing, according to AD reporter Yelle Tieleman tweeting live from the courtroom. The court heard about the recorded conversations, the arrest, and the discovery of several stolen vehicles afterward, with the defendant claiming he was unlawfully forced by authorities to unlock his phone.
Wiersum, 44, was killed during the morning of September 18 while standing next to his wife in front of their Amsterdam home. The father of two was representing Nabil B., a key witness for the prosecution in the case against crime boss Ridouan Taghi and the so-called Marengo Trial. Anouar T. is Taghi's cousin, and he was arrested about a month before Taghi was captured in Dubai in December after years on the run.
According to the Public Prosecutor, Anouar T. came into the picture as a suspect in Wiersum's murder through a wiretap used in another investigation in Utrecht. In a tapped conversation, T. allegedly said, "I am wanted for the lawyer's murder, and have to disappear for a while. My DNA has been uncovered," AD reported. He came to this conclusion following a November broadcast of Opsporing Verzocht, where police revealed new details of the case to the public and asked for their assistance. Police decided to arrest him after he said he would disappear, the prosecution claimed.
A stolen Renault Megane used to surveil Wiersum before his murder, was also seen on security cameras around T.s home in the weeks leading up to the fatal shooting, the Prosecutor said. A week after the murder he went to Morocco before returning to the Netherlands.
Once taken into custody, the prosecution said they uncovered a garage near Utrecht used by T.'s gang to store stolen vehicles. Three were found in the space along with false license plates. A portable real-time GPS tracking device and mobile phones, including the PGP phones known for their encryption features, were found during a raid of his home, the prosecution stated.
In defense, T. testified that he was taken into custody at gunpoint and was forced to unlock his phone while being kept in a choke hold. He claimed his hand was grabbed, and his thumb was pressed against the fingerprint reader, which he said was "unacceptable and strictly forbidden," according to AD.
T. was reportedly also suffering from symptoms connected to post-traumatic stress syndrome linked to his arrest.
Earlier in the day, one of T.'s defense attorneys, Andre Seebregst, asked the court to transfer the murder case away from the Amsterdam court system out of concerns that the court is too emotionally affected by the murder. In his request, Seebregts referred to a statement released by the court of Amsterdam on the day of the murder, . It stated that the members of the court were shocked by the murder. Seebregts also pointed out that Wiersum largely worked in the Amsterdam region
The Public Prosecution Service (OM) responded that the shock at Wiersum's murder stretched much further than just the Amsterdam court, before presenting the evidence so far against T. Two other suspects are also in custody in connection with Wiersum's murder. Authorities have not said who they believe pulled the trigger of the gun used to kill the defense attorney.
Meanwhile, the Marengo Trial has continued to move forward following the assassination of Nabil B.'s counsel. The criminal procedure covers multiple homicides, assassination attempts, and murder plots.
The Prosecutor said on Wednesday that more arrests may follow in this investigation. "Both in the execution of the murder, and in facilitating and preparing for the murder. And we're focusing on who ordered it," the Prosecutor said.