"A terror campaign of a severity, scale, and duration never before seen in the Netherlands." This is how the prosecutor characterized the allegations against 37-year-old Ali G. He is on trial for extorting and threatening the De Groot fresh group's board of directors.
According to the Public Prosecutor, the suspect also masterminded a series of attacks. These involved firework bombs and shooting at the homes of (former) employees of the company. For this, says the prosecutor, a prison sentence of 26 years and seven months, the maximum penalty, is appropriate and necessary.
The man began extorting the Dutch fruit company in 2019. In the spring of that year, he allegedly demanded €1.2 million from the company's board of directors, threatening to kill an employee if the accused's demand were not met.
In October and November, 2020, employees and their families' homes in six different towns were, indeed, subjected to firework bomb attacks. One such bombing led to a residential farmhouse burning to the ground. In December of that year, the police managed to foil two potential attacks on another house. During this time, the company received renewed threats, now demanding €2.5 million.
It gets worse. In May and June 2021, homes in four more towns were shot at. On June 5, a fire was set at a home in Tiel, where four people were arrested red-handed.
These arsons, bombings, and shootings differed in severity and execution. The Public Prosecutor has laid charges ranging from attempted murder to arson, with or without danger to life.
The indictment extensively describes these incidents' impact: "Hundreds of innocent families of the fruit company's employees have been living in fear and dread for years in their own homes, the very place where everyone wants to feel safe."
Neither the police nor Public Prosecutor's Office could alleviate these fears: "Large-scale protective actions, personal security guards, nightly checks on the motorway, sealing off the [area involved] by all possible means, and the arrests of suspects: none of this prevented the continued attacks."
The main suspect, says the Public Prosecutor, also destroyed the lives of those he roped in to do his dirty work: "He seems to have chosen those people at random from young, naive boys. They would receive money and be promised the rest after executing his plans. But, the irony is that most of them got very little or nothing at all."
The prosecutor says this conduct and the suspect's criminal record confirm his reputation as a master swindler. "The suspect created a scenario in which the company's board was engaged in international drug trafficking. A group of drug criminals, who supposedly had their claws in the company, would now extort them," the prosecutor said.
The police found no evidence that the company was involved in drug trafficking. "But the successful promotion of this image added considerably to people's dear. After all, those organized drug rings, with their accumulated power, organization, and financial resources, inspire much fear."
According to the prosecutor, Ali G. is responsible for 15 attacks, nine of which qualify as instigating attempted murder and one as the unsuccessful instigation of murder. The defendant is also charged with long-term extortion during two periods.
In determining punishment, the Public Prosecutor has taken into account this high number of committed attacks and their seriousness. The suspect kept orchestrating attacks, even after being arrested. This was also considered. The maximum sentence for this combination of offenses is 26 years and seven months. The Public Prosecutor sees no reason to deviate from this and asks the court to impose this sentence.