Assassination squad sentenced to up to 18 years in prison; Three suspects acquitted
The court in Amsterdam sentenced a group of six men to between 3 and 18 years in prison for preparing to commit several assassinations. Three suspects were acquitted. The court spoke of “shocking and serious acts” committed by an “absolutely professional organization” that decided who would die “without conscience.” Among the suspects in Benaouf A., who has been in prison for several years after he was convicted of orchestrating a murder in Belgium, and later was part of a foiled plan to break out of prison using a hijacked helicopter.
The case revolves around an attempted assassination and several planned assassinations as part of an ongoing feud between two rival underworld groups between 2012 and 2016. There were casualties on both sides. When the police decrypted messages sent between the suspects through chat service Ennetcom, they found that the orders for murders were given “in a chilling way.”
The highest sentence was for Abdelhamid A. According to the court, he had a “coordinating and directing role” within the organization. “He determined what amounts were paid to the executioners, directed the collection of the weapons, and was kept informed of the execution from minute to minute.” His sentence was equal to the 18 years the Public Prosecution Service (OM) demanded.
Benaouf A. was sentenced to 12 years in prison, two years longer than the OM demanded. The court criticized the OM's demand, calling it insufficient under the circumstances. The judge found it objectionable that A. ordered murders from prison “while serving a sentence for complicity in murder.”
A. is no stranger to the underworld. In 2012, he escaped death by jumping into the water of a canal during a shooting in Amsterdam’s Staatsliedenbuurt. A few years ago, there was an unsuccessful attempt to break him out of prison. He was serving a sentence for involvement in an assassination in Antwerp in October 2012.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times