Family member claims he tried to prevent Taghi prison break
Youssef T., the former lawyer and family member of Ridouan Taghi, claims that he was trying to prevent or delay Taghi's plans to escape from the high-security prison in Vught, not help him. The suspect, arrested while meeting with Taghi in prison in October last year, said this in court on Monday, NOS reports.
Speaking about his alleged position as Taghi's messenger, T. said: "You become part of something, and once you are in it, you try to get out in a subtle way." According to him, he wanted nothing to do with Taghi's possible escape plans. "All I was doing was de-escalating things," he said. "You have to be careful what you say. Stretch a little."
A week and a half ago, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) showed images of T. and Taghi communicating in the prison by holding up notes and T. showing Taghi things on his tablet. According to T.'s lawyer Haroon Raza, that is not a weird way to communicate in the Vught penitentiary, where a window separates inmates and visitors. "I have meetings like this. It's not about escape plans and drug trafficking, but about the file." This type of communication is sometimes necessary to guarantee confidentiality, Raza said, adding that the police have shadowed lawyers in the Marengo trial.
Raza also said that the notes T. wrote to Taghi show that he was trying to convince the main suspect in the Marengo assassinations trial not to escape. For example, T. used the fact that there were officers on the prison's roof to convince Taghi to wait, the lawyer said. "You'd better wait another year," T. allegedly told Taghi. "He always tried to slow down and appease."
The same applies to an alleged plan to take prison staff hostage, Raza said. Taghi asked T. for information about four prison workers, but T. did not provide any information because he didn't want anything to happen to the prison staff. When the court asked whether T. passed on any other messages, he did not answer, according to the broadcaster.
T. said in court that he wanted to stop practicing law to avoid pressure from Taghi. "I was applying for jobs and was already working as a teacher," he said. T. is no longer a lawyer and has a clean criminal record, Raza said, arguing for his release from pre-trial detention. He suggested that the court impose a ban on contacting Taghi as a condition for his release. "He'd prefer that. He doesn't want to talk to him either."
The court denied his petition for release and remanded T. into custody for another 90 days.