Key witness in Ridouan Taghi case shot dead in Spain

Ebrahim Buzhu, thought to be alleged Dutch crime lord’s rival, was found in a burnt out car

A witness in the trial of alleged Dutch crime lord Ridouan Taghi has been murdered in Spain.
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Two drug kingpins have been killed in Europe, one of whom was to have been a witness in the trial of alleged Dutch crime lord Ridouan Taghi.

Mr Taghi, who was arrested in Dubai in 2019, is facing trial over a number of alleged murders in the Netherlands and has been accused by prosecutors of plotting a violent prison break and ordering killings from his cell.

Bledar Muca, 39, was shot dead outside his apartment in Antwerp, Belgium, on Saturday.

He is believed to have been the right-hand man of two prominent Albanian drug dealers and had been living in London under fake British identity documents until 2020.

The fatal shooting comes a week after the killing of Utrecht drug trafficker Ebrahim Buzhu, 52, who was known as “the butcher".

He was found with a gunshot wound to the head in a burnt out car in Cadiz, Spain.

Buzhu was believed to be Mr Taghi’s rival and had reported him to the police in 2015.

He was to be an important witness in his trial.

Mr Taghi, along with 16 others, is alleged to have been part of the crime group known as the “Mocro Mafia” and is accused of murder and attempted murder.

He was arrested in Dubai in 2019 after a raid on his luxury apartment and was sent to the Netherlands to face trial.

Police and prosecutors believe he has continued to order killings from his prison cell and allege that he was planning a jailbreak.

He is being held in the Extra Secure Institution in Vught, the Netherlands, where military personnel have been drafted in to help guard him.

Ridouan Taghi is being held in the maximum security prison in Vught, the Netherlands. AFP

Court documents allege Mr Taghi gave one of his lawyers, his cousin Youssef Taghi, instructions for escape plans.

It is alleged he was planning to hire a commando of Balkan mercenaries to try to free him and had given instructions for three separate escape plans.

Mr Taghi’s lead lawyer Inez Weski denies the claims.

Last week Youssef Taghi was charged with abusing legal privilege by passing messages from the prison to the criminal underworld. He denies the charges.

Dutch police have increased security for Prime Minister Mark Rutte to protect him over fears of an attack or a kidnap attempt after he vowed to purge the Netherlands of drug gangs when prominent investigative reporter Peter R De Vries was gunned down in July 2021.

Tributes left at the scene of the shooting of journalist Peter R De Vries. AP

Mr De Vries had been advising the key witness, Nabil Bakkali, a former gang member, in Mr Taghi's trial when he was killed.

It came after the killing of Mr Bakkali's lawyer Derk Wiersum in 2019 and his brother Reduan Bakkali in 2018.

It is alleged that Mr Taghi ordered the killing of Reduan Bakkali after his testimony.

Officials in Belgium say the drug operations are run out of Amsterdam and the majority of the cocaine arriving in Antwerp is then taken to the Netherlands.

Latest figures show the majority of Europe's drugs are smuggled through Belgium, with a turnover of up to €130 billion ($145bn) a year, the UN says.

Updated: January 31, 2022, 2:08 PM