The chilling discovery of a soundproofed torture chamber thought to have been used by a violent drugs gang should be used to remind recreational cocaine users of the consequences of their habits, a Dutch public prosecutor has said.
Koos Plooij told an Amsterdam court that the violence of the narcotics trade was a ‘repulsive, but apparently unavoidable’ result of the widespread use of illegal drugs in the Netherlands and neighbouring countries.
He said: ‘The question is how many people are willing to admit that there is indeed a connection between their cocaine use – whether it is to party, deal with work stress or suppress psychological problems – and the underworld that is happy to answer demand but according to its own rules: corrupting, undermining, tough, sparing nothing and nobody.’
Mr Plooij made the comments at the trial of 11 suspects who are accused of planning to use the ‘hell-like’ chamber to torture rival gang members.
The chamber, discovered two years ago in a shipping container in Wouwse Plantage, south of Rotterdam, was soundproofed and fitted with a dentist’s chair and apparent torture weapons such as scalpels, claw hammers, pliers, pruning shears and gas burners.
Six other shipping containers fitted with handcuffs and legcuffs, which were allegedly to be used as holding cells, were also found.
One of them had a freezer large enough to hold more than one person and a mortar mixing tub which was allegedly going to be used for waterboarding victims, according to local media.
The seven containers were all found before they were used after French police intercepted encrypted messages.
The court heard a second site in Rotterdam was the operating base for an ‘arrest team’ whose task was to pick up their intended targets and take them to the torture chambers.
Prosecutors intercepted a message from one suspect known as Piet Costa in which he wrote: ‘There are a few now and I hope I get the chance to torture them.’
A second man, who is terminally ill and not currently on trial, allegedly wrote: ‘If they don’t cooperate, right in the knee.’
The court heard that the wives and children of the alleged gang’s rivals were also in danger of being targeted and ‘detained under the most barbaric conditions’.
In both sites, officers found stolen police uniforms, bulletproof vests and blue flashing lights.
Prosecutors called for a 12-year jail sentence for Roger P, known as Piet Costa, who is already facing a jail sentence of 17 years and nine months sentence over a separate conviction. He has been described as a major figure in the drug world.
The prosecution said there was nothing to substantiate the claims made by one of the suspects that they believed the containers were being set up for the purposes of growing hemp.
The suspects deny the charges.
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