Men convicted in shocking murder of attorney Derk Wiersum get 30 years on appeal
The Amsterdam Court of Appeal upheld the sentences handed down to two men convicted in the murder of 44-year-old criminal defense attorney Derk Wiersum. Moreno B. and Giermo B. were again sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing Wiersum in broad daylight in front of his Amsterdam-Buitenveldert home. Just like in the first trial, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) recommended that the judges presiding over the appeal sentence the men to life in prison.
The father of two was shot multiple times at 7:30 a.m. on September 18, 2019. He had just said goodbye to his wife when a gunman approached Wiersum's car. The gun jammed, and Wiersum got out of his vehicle. The shooter kept pulling the trigger, shooting Wiersum repeatedly. A gunshot wound to the head proved to be fatal. Moreno B. was 33 at the time of the shooting, while Giermo B. was 37. They were both accused of planning and carrying out the murder, though it was never conclusively determined who pulled the trigger.
Wiersum was part of the legal team representing Nabil B., the key witness in the sprawling Marengo proceedings. The name was given to the case against suspected organized crime boss Ridouan Taghi and many of his alleged associates who are on trial for multiple counts of assassination and attempted murder.
The court noted that Wiersum's murder not only caused intense pain for his loved ones, but also caused a deep sense of social unrest. The court did affirm that Wiersum was not the only person connected to Nabil B. who was murdered. B.'s brother was also killed a year earlier. "The convicted men knew that Wiersum was a lawyer. It must have been clear to them that a murder of a lawyer would cause a great social shock," the court said in a statement. Prosecutors said it was clear that the men suspected of killing Wiersum knew about his connection to the Marengo case, but the court disagreed, and said it was not definitively proven.
Unlike the lower court ruling, the Court of Appeal did not mention the murder of journalist Peter R. de Vries, who had been assisting B. on several matters. De Vries was also killed in Amsterdam one year after Wiersum's slaying.
Although the court said the assassination demonstrated "a cold-blooded, terrifying professionalism," it ultimately decided against issuing a life sentence. "Aside from retribution, the purpose of the sentence is to deter others from committing these types of offences. Unlike the Public Prosecution Service, the court finds that this goal does not justify the imposition of a life sentence in the case of the convicted men."
The attorneys representing Moreno B. said they would appeal the ruling, according to newswire ANP. Giermo B.'s lawyer said it was too early to say what their next move would be.
Several other Taghi associates and family members have been accused of plotting Wiersum's murder. Their trial was expected to happen later this year, possibly after the summer.