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Dutch gang leader vanishes in Spain after release

By AFP

April 23, 2024 11:10 PM


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A top drug trafficker is on the run after being bailed from jail in Spain, officials said Tuesday, dodging a bid to extradite him to the Netherlands where his gang is based.

Karim Bouyakhrichan was arrested in January in Marbella, an upmarket tourist resort on Spain's southern coast, along with five other members of the Mocro Maffia gang.

They are suspected of having bought 172 properties in Spain worth over 50 million euros ($53.5 million) to launder their gains from drug trafficking.

But the following month a court in the southern city of Malaga decided to grant him provisional release with judicial supervision, against the wishes of public prosecutors and the Spanish government. Judicial sources said Tuesday his whereabouts are now unknown.

"It is worrying news," Justice Felix Bolanos told a news conference following a weekly cabinet meeting when asked about the case.

"I can't comment on any court decisions, but I do trust that the state security forces will bring this person to justice as soon as possible," he added.

The Malaga court said in its ruling granting Bouyakhrichan provisional release that the risk that he would flee could be avoided "with other less burdensome security measures" than pre-trial detention.

It imposed bail of 50,000 euros, took away his passport, and ordered him to report to the authorities twice a month.

 Dutch extradition bid 

 At the same time, Spain's top criminal court was processing a request for Bouyakhrichan's extradition to the Netherlands, where he is wanted for large-scale drug trafficking.

But it postponed its extradition proceedings because the Malaga court intended to put Bouyakhrichan on trial first for money laundering, court sources told AFP.

When the Netherlands provided more information to back its extradition request, the top court summoned him to testify and when he failed to appear a fresh warrant for his arrest was issued.

Vincent Veenman, a spokesman at the Dutch public prosecutor's office in The Hague, said it was "unknown" to them why Bouyakhrichan had not been detained for extradition.

"We are currently awaiting a decision on the extradition request," he added.

"Our experience with the Spanish justice system is that this cooperation is generally good. Dozens of suspects are handed over every year."

Bouyakhrichan's brother Samir, another leading member of the Mocro Maffia, was murdered in 2014 near Marbella, sparking a reorganisation of organised crime groups in the region.

The Mocro Maffia made international headlines in 2022 after it emerged that Dutch Crown Princess Amalia had been placed under heavy protection in response to fears of an attack by the group.

Dutch media reported earlier last week that the 20-year-old heir to the Dutch throne studied in Madrid after being forced to ditch plans to live in student accommodation in Amsterdam because of the threats.


AFP


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