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Murder of supergrass lawyer raises fears of Dutch 'narco-state'

James Crisp
Flowers were left at the home of the murdered lawyer as news of the gangland-style killing spread.  - REX

Dutch prosecutors have vowed to continue using supergrass witnesses in the fight against organised crime after an lawyer for an informant in a major drug case was murdered. 

Lawyers and prosecutors in big drugs cases were put under special protection after the murder, which raised fears that the Netherlands was turning into a narco-state. 

Derk Wiersum, a 44-year-old father of two, was gunned down in the street in broad daylight and in front of his wife shortly after leaving his house in Amsterdam on Wednesday.

Mr Wiersum was the lawyer for a state witness named Nabil Bakkali, who had turned informant in a huge case against two Moroccan-born men dubbed the most wanted criminals in the Netherlands.

Police are hunting a hoodie-wearing assailant who fled on foot. Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister said the murder was “incredibly disturbing” and local newspapers compared it to cartel killings in Colombia and mafia murders in Italy. 

“We must continue to use the means of key witnesses, otherwise we will get no further in criminal cases,'' said Fred Westerbeke, of the Public Prosecution Service. 

“The scenario that we assume is indeed that he was assassinated because he represented key witness Nabil Bakkali,” he told  Dutch television, This is also meant to undermine the rule of law and to frighten us.” 

"This is a confirmation that we live in a narco-state," said Jan Struijs of the NPB police union. "It is an attack on the rule of law."

The two suspects, Ridouan Taghi and Said Razzouki, are considered the most wanted criminals in the Netherlands, which has issued international arrest warrants against them on suspicion of murder and drug trafficking.

Mr Bakkali incriminated Taghi in eight separate murders, two attempted murders and planning another two assassinations. 

The shooting of the lawyer came a year after Nabil Bakkali's own brother was shot dead, raising questions about why Wiersum was not provided with better security.

 A former Dutch professional footballer who played for clubs in Portugal, Hungary and England was also shot dead in Amsterdam on Wednesday. 

Defender Kelvin Maynard, 32, died when two assailants on a motorbike opened fire on his car on Wednesday night in a south-east district of the Dutch capital, a police statement said. No details for a possible motive were given. 

Recreational drug use has long been tolerated by law enforcement in Amsterdam, a city of 800,000 people, creating an underworld of dealers and suppliers which sometimes fuels violence.