The lawyer formerly representing the main defendant in the Netherlands’ most complex gangland murder trial has been released from prison after six weeks, although charges against her of “participation in a criminal organisation” remain and her licence to practice has been suspended.
Inez Weski (68) was released on Wednesday from Vught high-security jail, where she had been in solitary confinement since her home and offices were raided by detectives investigating breaches of confidentiality in the case involving her client, Ridouan Taghi, once the country’s most wanted man.
Although the judges in her case ruled against the prosecution and said there was no reason to keep Ms Weski any longer in pre-trial detention, they also said there was sufficient evidence to sustain the case against her, that she remained a suspect, and that the case would continue.
Ms Weski is charged with “participating in a criminal organisation involved in international drug trafficking and money laundering”, specifically on suspicion that she abused her professional position by passing confidential information to Taghi in jail.
Ms Weski has always been a forceful advocate, and when such allegations were raised tenuously in the past, sometimes by fellow lawyers representing other defendants, she denied them emphatically.
She is not, however, the first of Taghi’s lawyers to be arrested during the so-called “Marengo” trial — a name chosen at random by computer.
At the end of January, 39-year-old “Youssef T” — a nephew of Taghi’s but also one of his team of lawyers and therefore entitled to visit him — was sentenced to 5½ years for playing “a key role” in the Taghi criminal gang by passing information.
Having heard that there were plans at the time for a breakout, the court noted upon conviction that Youssef T’s case was “an example of how organised crime penetrates the upper world” and of how such unethical collaboration “seriously undermines the rule of law”.
As Ms Weski left prison on Wednesday, her own lawyers issued a brief release stressing that she had not made any statement during questioning by police over the past six weeks because of her duty of confidentiality to her clients. That would not change, the lawyers said.
Since her arrest, Ms Weski has severed all contact with Taghi and with the Marengo trial, but in any case, her licence to practice law has been suspended by the Rotterdam Bar Association, which it says is “standard procedure”.
The Marengo trial is the biggest, and probably most complicated murder trial in Dutch history, with 17 suspects all believed to be connected to a series of six assassinations between 2015 and 2017 as part of the “mocro-mafia” or Moroccan mafia drugs war.
The verdict in Marengo is due in October but there are now doubts about that timescale given that the main defendant, Taghi, who faces a life sentence, is without a lawyer.
Three people have been shot dead so far during the trial: a brother of a state witness, the lawyer for the same witness, and an investigative journalist advising the same witness.