Drug case collapses after invalid telephone taps

A judge in Antwerp has acquitted 46 suspects who were standing trial in a major drugs case. They were suspected of involvement in selling heroin and cocaine on a massive scale in the Antwerp area during a three year period.

The members of the gang were acquitted because evidence had been collected using telephone tapping that had not been collected following the proper rules. The judge ruled that the examining magistrate had failed to explain sufficiently why the suspects' telephone conversations were being tapped.

Defence lawyer Tim Smet: "All the telephone tap evidence had to be removed from the dossier leading the judge to the conclude that there was insufficient evidence to proceed."

Public prosecutors maintained that gang members sold large quantities of heroin and cocaine in Antwerp from 2007 to 2010 supplying some one thousand customers. Public prosecutors pressed for custodial sentences of 54 months. Prosecutors are now considering an appeal against the judge's ruling.