Long-time Dutch criminal defense lawyer Derk Wiersum was shot dead in Amsterdam on Wednesday morning. The 44-year-old father and husband was slain while representing Nabil Bakkalifor, a key witness in the high profile case against 16 men accused of five drug-related murders and one attempted murder.
Wiersum’s client Bakkalifor is a crown witness in the case against gang boss Ridouan Taghi, described by Het Parool as “the Netherlands’ most wanted criminal”. Taghi is allegedly behind several murders in the ongoing ‘mocro maffia’ drug war.
41-year-old Taghi (through his lawyer) denies his involvement but remains the prime suspect in the murder of Bakkalifor’s brother Reduan – who was unaffiliated with the gang and killed at his workplace last year just one week after authorities announced Nabil Bakkalifor as their key witness. Bakkalifor is among those accused in the case which will likely go to trial in 2020 but he has spoken out against the group in exchange for a lower sentence.
Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema said the assassination of Wiersum was an “unprecedented attack on the legal profession that affects the essence of the rule of law.”
Wiersum was the father of two school-aged children and reportedly also donated his knowledge of criminal law to causes such as the foundation Terdoodveroordeelde who fights against the death penalty and the nonprofit organization Dutch&Detained who provides legal aid to Dutch citizens imprisoned abroad.
According to Het Parool, Wiersum had been threatened because of his involvement with Bakkalifor but refused extra security. The lawyer was walking to his car from his Imstenrade home at around 7:30am when he was gunned down. Witnesses described the shooter as a young man between the ages of 16-20, hooded and dressed in black. He is still at large.