The alleged leader of a crime group described as an “oiled killing machine” faces life behind bars after he was found guilty in what some consider to be the biggest Dutch criminal trial ever.

Ridouan Taghi – once the most wanted man in the Netherlands – is one of three people suspected of leading the organisation and had been on the run until he was extradited in 2019.

He was among 17 suspects accused of some involvement in six murders, four attempted murders, planning other attacks and being part of a criminal group.

A lifetime sentence was handed to Taghi in the so-called Marengo trial on Tuesday, after almost six years of journeying through the court.

Why is the trial so big?

According to the Netherlands Judiciary, the case has amassed 142 hearings, tens of thousands of file pages, more than 800 pages of pleadings and over 3,000 pages of pleadings from the defence.

The case has made headlines for out-of-court events as much as it has for developments inside the courtroom.

In 2018, while Taghi was still on the run, there was an attempt to firebomb the Telegraaf newspaper officers and police suspected the 46-year-old of being behind the plan.

The case took another turn when one witness, Nabil B, agreed to become a witness for the prosecution in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Nabil B, alleged to have been a hitman, faces 10 years in jail, but his lawyer Derk Wiersum was shot dead in Amsterdam.

Taghi has not been charged with involvement in the lawyer’s death.

A month later, a €100,000 (£86,000) reward was offered for information leading to the arrest of Tahgi and Said Razzouki, another of the suspected leaders.

It was the largest reward in Dutch history, though Taghi reportedly later complained the reward was too small.

Nabil B’s brother was also shot dead – despite having no connection to criminal activities – by someone who turned up for a job interview at his shop, according to Dutch media.

In 2021, Dutch criminal journalist Peter R. de Vries was also killed in Amsterdam.

None of those three murders are listed in the Marengo trial, but are being prosecuted separately.

Change in lawyers

A year into the trial, Taghi’s cousin and member of his defence team, Youssef Taghi, was arrested for helping his client run his criminal enterprise from prison, according to publication Dutch News.

During his trial in 2022, he reportedly said he had no choice but to help, adding “you don’t say no to Taghi”.

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Three months after closing arguments, lead counsel Inez Weski was also arrested last year for helping Taghi.

She refused to speak to investigators, citing attorney-client privilege.

Taghi intended to represent himself after struggling to find a replacement lawyer, but a new team agreed and tried to extend the case by nine months to catch up with the details of the case.

In December last year, Dutch media reported the team resigned as they were unable to mount a proper defence.


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