Taghi behind bars: no letters, no phone calls, no imam and only 45 minutes of strength training a week

When Ridouan Taghi was moved internally to a new department of the Extra Secure Institution (EBI) in Vught last May, everything was wrong, he believes. His environment is “considerably smaller and more soberly furnished”, he now gets outside air through an air cage “which was previously used for ventilation during a order measure or disciplinary punishment”, his new cell is ice cold, which means he is “forced to wear several layers of clothing” and he is allowed to only do strength training for 45 minutes a week.

Not to mention the “enormous social isolation”. Since Taghi was arrested in Dubai at the end of December 2019 and came to the Netherlands, he has been staying in the EBI in Vught: the country’s most secure prison. He has no contact with fellow detainees and has even been in a completely separate department of the EBI since May 2022, where no other detainees reside. This also applies to E1, the new department to which he has been transferred due to renovations.

Taghi’s detention lawyer will therefore start legal proceedings in the spring of 2023 to suspend the transfer. He calls on the chairman of the appeal committee of the Council for the Administration of Criminal Justice and Youth Protection to take a look for himself.

The appeal has no effect. The director of the Vught PI, who is assisted by the State Attorney in Taghi’s detention cases, points out that the ventilation did not work properly in the first days after transfer, but that a technician was immediately called in to solve the problem. Taghi (who no longer speaks to guards after they allegedly lied about him) subsequently confirmed that it was working properly by raising his thumb. And it is true that there is no fitness equipment in the department yet, but it has been ordered. The director cannot fully understand ‘sports criticism’. Taghi “never used the sports facilities in the previous department.”

Escape plans

On Tuesday, Taghi (46) was sentenced to life in the Marengo liquidation trial. According to the court, he is the “sole and undisputed leader” of a criminal organization that, among other things, is behind five murders. Given his escape plans and attempts to continue leading his criminal organization from prison, Taghi will remain in the 24 cell EBI for quite some time.

Ridouan Taghi during the Marengo process. The judge sentenced him to life in prison on Tuesday. He was “the sole and undisputed leader” of a criminal organization.
Drawing Aloys Oosterwijk / ANP

Since it came to light in 2021 that Taghi was passing on messages to the outside world through his lawyer cousin Youssef T., who has now been sentenced to 5.5 years in prison (for example about the ‘Navy Seals’ style in which he should be freed), he has been staying there the toughest regime imaginable. This is evident from research by NRC of fourteen anonymized statements in appeals that Taghi filed against his detention conditions.

His specialized detention lawyer Thomas van der Horst, who does not wish to provide any explanation at this time, emphasizes in those procedures that “in the ECI with regard to [Taghi] created detention environment is harmful, inhumane and degrading”. The restrictions imposed on Taghi are said to be in conflict with various penitentiary rights, the ECHR human rights treaty and the Nelson Mandela Prison Rules: UN minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners. According to him, the threat posed by his client is also partly based on unverifiable information.

Taghi has filed numerous appeals in recent years. Last year, for example, about the violation of his right to spiritual care because he no longer received a visit from an imam. The prison director defended himself by pointing out that due to security risks and the four-eye principle, Taghi now has to speak to two imams at the same time. Due to circumstances they were not available and so it was not possible to meet the principle of speaking to an imam every week. The appeals committee accepted that explanation.

Taghi also repeatedly challenged restrictions on the mail he is allowed to send and receive. That post is read and, according to the prison director, contained several times veiled language and code language. For example, Taghi would exchange messages via the ISBN numbers of books mentioned in letters. Taghi lost the appeal regarding the post – which also included the refusal to hand over a letter from Theo van Gogh’s murderer Mohammed B..

A legal battle also arose regarding his telephone rights. He is allowed to make ten minutes of telephone calls per week, but his conversation partners must go to one of the ten extra-secure prisons in the Netherlands to make the call from there. Telephone contact abroad is not permitted until a similar secure calling location has been designated there. Taghi argued, among other things, that this means he cannot have contact with his minor children and mother, but he also backed down on that front.

French lawyer

The fact that Taghi initiates so many proceedings is related to Dutch detention law. Decisions by the prison director apply for fixed periods (such as three months) and must then be extended by a new decision – which can be challenged again.

From one of the most recent pronunciations, from the end of December, shows that Taghi plans to also challenge his (inhumane) detention conditions through the European Court of Human Rights. He wants to hire a French lawyer for this. This woman “of impeccable behavior and reputation”, whose name has been anonymized, would like to visit Taghi every six months in the EBI. If it weren’t for the fact that the director of the prison Taghi refuses to contact this lawyer. He fears that Taghi, just like his cousin and lawyer Inez Weski, will smuggle out messages through her and fears that she “is or may come into contact” with Taghi’s criminal network.

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In the appeal procedure, the director, again assisted by the state attorney, substantiates this fear by pointing out, among other things, that one of Taghi’s sons – who has since been arrested – spoke very enthusiastically about the lawyer in 2022 and suggested that his father should marry her. can skype.

The appeals committee made its decision on the Friday before Christmas. And for the first time in a long time, Taghi was actually right. The decision of the director of the PI Vught to refuse contact with her was annulled because insufficient detail was given as to why Taghi would continue his criminal actions through this lawyer.

The director had to make a new decision within six weeks. A spokesperson refuses to say how this turned out, because it is “an individual case”.