The district court in Den Bosch announced the prison sentences for 14 suspects from Operation Alfa on Monday afternoon. The alleged gang leader Martien R. was sentenced to 16 years in prison. His brothers, son, and other family members are also threatened with years in prison.
International cocaine transports, trade in machine guns and pistols, pill production, drug trafficking, money laundering, and the forming of various gangs. The list of crimes that the police and the judiciary are blaming on the suspects is enormous.
Secretly listening in
A special investigation team (alpha) searched in silence for a long time for the man from Oss, his family, and accomplices. The detectives learned a lot thanks to a wiretapping operation of eighteen months long. They were partly discovered. Yet the police could quickly pick up the thread unnoticed.
In concrete terms that meant: sometimes listening and watching live in the criminal meeting room behind the trailer park on the Hoogheuvelstraat in Oss. Footage shown in the courtroom showed various suspects, including Martien R. with a large machine gun in his hands.
Criticism from lawyers and suspects
The more than 800 audio and video fragments led to a mega-case. One of the biggest trials ever in Brabant started this spring. Just about everything revolved around the wiretapping operation which is where most of the evidence is. Lawyers and suspects wanted to know more about it. Time after time, they asked for clarification of the methods. They also wondered why the police didn’t intervene sooner when they were so close. Did they let weapons and drugs through perhaps?
The court in Oost-Brabant brushed the criticism aside and ruled that the trial could continue. The judges would only react when the verdicts were delivered. That fact that the court went ahead anyway was unacceptable to Martien R. He and almost all the defendants left angry. They felt condemned already, and they had lost all confidence.
In the weeks that followed, they stayed at home or in the cell. The two prosecutors went through all the allegations step by step and sometimes showed a film. The court summarised everything and sometimes there was a question. Occasionally a suspect came to listen. But in the courtroom, there was a deadly silence. The tables remained empty.
So it remained unclear what the suspects thought of the serious crimes on which they were accused. That lack of reaction makes this mega-case unique. That massive absence has rarely been seen in a Dutch trial.
Also, for the Monday verdicts, the expectation is that almost all suspects will stay away. They don’t want to hear anything from the court about what their future will look like. Staying away now has another goal: preventing arrest. Because the Public Prosecutor wants a large part of the suspects to serve their sentence immediately, but the court will also decide on that.
Whatever the outcome is, an appeal is already certain. The lawyers have already hinted at it. The public prosecutor has also been taking it into account for a long time. An appeal prosecutor has even listened in on several occasions during the hearings.
Translated by: Anitha Sevugan