Court forbids newspaper AD from attending Ridouan Taghi trial, Marengo Process for rest of year
Dutch newspaper AD is no longer allowed to attend this year’s remaining courtroom sessions of the criminal trial known as the Marengo Process. The newspaper said on Friday that it was informed of the decision by the management of the Amsterdam court. The exclusion is the result of the newspaper having live-streamed video from the 28 June session directly on the AD website.
The presiding judge called the live online broadcast of the images "completely contrary to the agreements made.” Cameras are allowed in court, but the use of images is subject to strict rules, including those pertaining to privacy. In the images that AD broadcast, all suspects were mentioned by name.
“Marengo Process” is the random name chosen by the court for the large criminal procedure in which “17 people are on trial on suspicion of participation in a criminal organization and, in varying degrees, of involvement in six murders, four attempted murders and of preparing assassinations,” the court said in its explanation of the case. The defendants include Ridouan Taghi, who is suspected of leading the organized crime operation, and Saïd Razzouki, who is believed to be Taghi’s right-hand man.
Their names have largely been redacted by authorities, including the judiciary and the prosecution, since they were captured as fugitives. Taghi was caught in Dubai at the end of 2019 after years on the run. R. was captured two months later in Colombia.
The editor-in-chief of AD, Rennie Rijpma, said that he accepts the court’s sanction. "We think it is a heavy punishment," Rijpma said in the newspaper. "It limits us for a longer period of time in reporting a criminal case with a major social impact. At the same time, I understand that the court must monitor the safety of the judicial process, and that if a mistake is made, a sanction will follow." The newspaper will continue to publish articles about the criminal case.
Rijpma previously said that the "short duration” in which the images were broadcast was due to miscommunication, and that "it should never have happened.” The editor-in-chief said, "When the human error became apparent, we immediately stopped and deleted the images."
The general secretary of the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ), Thomas Bruning, called it "alarming that the court is imposing such a severe sanction on a medium because of human error.” The court should be cautious about measures that "make it impossible for a section of the press to work for a longer period of time," he wrote on Twitter.
The other suspects in the Marengo Process include Razzouki's brothers, Mohamed and Zaki, as well as Zakaria A., Charif el A., Mohammed el A., Achraf B., Bagdad el H., Zakaria el H., Arthur M., Mohamed M., Walid M., Ricardo O., Zaki R., Mao R., and Mario R.
Prosecutors are seeking life sentences against Taghi, Saïd Razzouki, Achraf B., Mao R., and Mario R.
After the summer, the court has 37 dates scheduled for various hearings in the Marengo Process through the end of the year. This includes eight hearings in September, six in October, 14 in November, and nine in December.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times