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Holland: Trio May Have Been Murdered For Informing

Media Awareness ProjectThe Irish Times 05 May 2000

Holland: Trio May Have Been Murdered For Informing

Author: Jim Cusack

TRIO MAY HAVE BEEN MURDERED FOR INFORMINGPositive identification of the three Irishmen who are believed to have been brutally murdered in the Netherlands may not be established for some time, according to officials here.

One of the theories police are investigating is that the three, from the west of Ireland, were killed by major drug-dealers who suspected one or other of them of passing information to police about drugs shipments.

A number of major drugs shipments have been intercepted by Dutch police and the Garda in the past two to three years, and it has been clear for some time that the police have been acting on good “inside” information.

One of the last major drugs shipments bound for Ireland, which was intercepted in the Netherlands two months ago, contained a large amount of the synthetic drugs, ecstasy and amphetamine.

According to Dutch police sources quantities of amphetamine were discovered at the apartment in the seaside resort of Scheveningen where the three were killed last Saturday. It is also understood police recovered a tablet press, which was being used for manufacturing either ecstasy or amphetamine tablets, or both.

It also appeared yesterday that the investigation into the murders is being stepped up after behind-the-scenes diplomatic and Garda representations. There were concerns earlier in the week that the investigation was being given a low priority because the victims were foreign nationals and apparently involved in the drug trade.

However, the Dutch public prosecutor in charge of the case, Ms Hannele Ehelmans, said yesterday that 18 police officers were now involved in the investigation and that it was being given a “very high priority”.

Dutch police and the Garda are withholding confirmation of the identities of the murdered men until the completion of DNA analysis, fingerprint tests and dental records. They are still trying to establish the identity of a Northern Ireland woman whose passport was found in the apartment.

Ms Ehelmans, an officer in the public prosecutor’s office in The Hague, said yesterday identification had been impeded because of the extent of the “mutilation” and burns on the bodies.

According to unofficial police sources the three victims were subjected to torture, suffering broken limbs and mutilation before being shot dead. Their bodies were then piled together in the bathroom of the apartment, doused with a flammable liquid and set on fire.

Fears that five Irish people might have been killed in the incident lessened yesterday when it emerged that at least one of five passports found in the apartment was stolen.

The passport was taken in Amsterdam over a year ago from a Co Limerick man who reported the theft to the Irish Embassy in the Netherlands before returning to Ireland. Yesterday he visited gardai in Fermoy, Co Cork, near where he lives, to tell them about the theft.

The Dutch police and the Garda refused yesterday to comment on the motive for the murders.

However, it is known that at least one major Irish drug-trafficker with links to a major Dutch criminal has lost two large consignments of guns and drugs in the past 17 months.

The first of these was intercepted by gardai at the Border on December 23rd, 1998. Some 750 kg of cannabis and 25 handguns and machine pistols were seized in Castleblayney in that find. There were reports at the time that the guns were destined for the “Real IRA”, which was responsible for the Omagh bombing in August 1998.

Dutch police in Amsterdam intercepted the second consignment on March 13th last. In that seizure some 600kg of cannabis, 50kg of amphetamine and 100,000 ecstasy tablets were recovered along with 15 firearms. The guns found in two Amsterdam flats included an automatic rifle, submachine guns, machine pistols and handguns.

The similarity between the two finds indicated that the same gang was responsible, and it was clear that police in the Netherlands and in the Republic were acting on reliable intelligence, probably from a source close to the gang.

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