Convicted cocaine trafficker given 2.5 more years in prison over torture chamber plot
A court imposed strict prison sentences on Wednesday in the controversial case concerning the alleged torture chamber built into a string of sea containers in Wouwse Plantage. The verdict spoke of "a group that ruthlessly wanted to take the law into their own hands.” The 50-year-old defendant, Roger P., known by the alias Piet Costa, was given the maximum possible prison sentence. His lawyer said he would appeal immediately after the hearing.
P. was recently sentenced in Rotterdam to fifteen years in prison in part for his involvement in the large-scale international trade in cocaine. The court was forced in its latest ruling to take that Rotterdam conviction and sentence into account in the torture container case. In total - for both cases - P. could legally face a maximum of seventeen years and nine months. The court sentenced P. on Wednesday in the torture container case to the maximum additional time it could, 33 months in prison.
P. and his followers are said to have built a detention center of six sea containers in a warehouse in Wouwse Plantage. A seventh container was set up as a torture chamber, including an old dental chair to which victims could be tied. A veritable arsenal of torture tools was found in the complex. The suspected gang had parked a few fast cars in a warehouse in Rotterdam, which were to be used for kidnappings. Weapons and police uniforms were also found.
The cocaine trade is said to have formed the backdrop for the bizarre and chilling criminal enterprise, which was discovered thanks to the authorities’ hack of encrypted messaging service Encrochat. These intercepted messages formed an important part of the evidence. The hack allowed the police to follow the suspects' movements for quite some time. They also installed cameras in the warehouse in Wouwse Plantage. Action was taken on June 22, 2020, when the suspects were about to hold a first victim in their underworld prison, according to the Public Prosecution Service.
According to the lawyers of the suspects, the investigators broke many rules with the hacking operation, so the criminal prosecution should not be valid. According to Roger P.'s lawyer, "the hack was wrong on all sides.” He therefore announced that he would go for an appeal immediately after the verdict. They also appealed in the Rotterdam cocaine trafficking case.
P.'s co-defendants were sentenced to prison terms of up to nine years on Wednesday. The court called Hassan M. Costa’s right-hand man, saying he collected information about potential victims. He was to eight years in prison. His lawyer also announced immediately afterwards that he would appeal. "In both the Rotterdam case and this case, he was sentenced to eight years in prison for participating in a criminal organization. In our view, that is not correct."
The trial of P.'s suspected criminal partner, Robin van O., has been postponed because he is seriously ill.
Reporting by ANP.