Yesterday’s arrest of lawyer Inez Weski “is quite unique in the Netherlands,” says Laura Peters, assistant professor of criminal law at the University of Groningen. “This hardly ever happens. Apart from a previous lawyer in this case, Taghi’s lawyer Youssef T. from Utrecht, I do not know any other lawyer in the Netherlands where this has happened.”
According to Peters, the arrest of Ridouan Taghi’s counsel, the main suspect in the Marengo trial, exposes a major point of tension from a legal point of view. “Where is the boundary between participating in a criminal organization and providing legal assistance? Even if your name is Taghi, you are entitled to legal assistance by a lawyer.”
But providing legal assistance can also contribute to the continued existence of a criminal organization, says Peters. “So where does it get shady? What exactly is and isn’t allowed.”
In Italy, a country with a long history of mafia organizations, there has been a lot of discussion about this for a long time, says the university lecturer with expertise in the field of Italian criminal law. In the Netherlands, that discussion is only just getting started.
Italy distinguishes between internal and external participation in a criminal (mafia) organization. With internal participation, someone has become a member of the organization, usually through an initiation ritual. In the case of external participation, someone who is not a member provides assistance to the organization in a criminal manner and thereby contributes to its continued existence.
Participation in a criminal organization
In Italy, many lawyers have already been prosecuted for external participation. We could translate such a construction within Dutch law into complicity in participating in a criminal organization.
“But Weski was arrested on suspicion of participation in a criminal organization. That goes a step further than complicity in participation in a criminal organization. That is a serious suspicion.”
It now mainly depends on the evidence that the Public Prosecution Service comes up with. “Legal assistance is allowed. Consciously passing on certain information is another story. We will have to wait and see.”
- After lawyer Weski, cousin Ridouan Taghi was also arrested
- Inez Weski, lawyer Taghi, arrested for participation in criminal organization
- 5.5 years in prison for cousin Ridouan Taghi: ‘Key role in organization’