The biggest police catch ever: torture chambers, drugs and criminals without a trace

This week the case against Roger P., nicknamed Piet Costa, began. He is suspected of smuggling large batches of coke from Costa Rica. This trial is one of the first to follow from the political crackdown of chat service EncroChat.

EncroChat was a service with its own telephones on which people could talk to each other without others being able to read. At least, that is what they thought. The police read messages without criminals noticing. For example, about ordered murders and gigantic drug deals.

At the beginning of July, the police published images of a sort of torture container in Brabant that had been discussed via EncroChat. These images were sent all over the world. The trial will start next week.

According to the police, we will see much more from the EncroChat catch in court. CCeit op 3 explains this earthquake for organised crime

The fact that many EncroChat messages are in the possession of the Dutch police can be difficult for lawyers of suspects. But Sven Brinkhoff, professor of criminal law at the Open University, still sees a number of opportunities.

Legality

For example, have the police received the reports lawfully? At the moment this is still unclear, but this will need to be clarified in the course of the first trials.

In previous trials – for example, the Marengo trial in which Ridouan Taghi is on trial – the defence made the point that the police did not tap enough messages in a targeted manner, but, as it were, threw out a trawl.

“Normally there must always be a suspicion before the police can take action,” says Brinkhoff. “With the EncroChat messages, the question is whether that suspicion already existed or whether the police first received messages and then went to see if they could find a concrete suspicion in them

The other messages

And what is in the other messages that are not in the file? According to the professor, this is very important for the defence, because it could just be that messages that have not been added to the case prove that a suspect is not guilty.

Brinkhoff: “The defence can then ask for all the messages to be added. I think that in itself is very valid. This will also be done when the telephone tap is used”

How did they get in?

Also, it is not yet entirely clear how the police got the messages, but, according to Brinkhoff, that is a third important question on which the defence will focus. It will determine what authority the police used to intercept the messages. And only when that is clear can a judge determine whether that was actually allowed.

“As technology develops and the police use it, the question is increasingly being asked: what is this and what competence do we apply? In that respect, Brinkhoff says: We are still working with legislation from the end of the 1990s, but it was not technically possible at that time

According to Brinkhoff, the lawyers focus will be on something the police did, but which, at least according to them, was not really allowed.