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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Prison Sentence For Dutch Man Who Tried To Purchase Assault Rifle And Explosives From The Darknet

In January, a man from Barendrecht, the Netherlands was sentenced to prison for attempted purchase of handguns, a shotgun, an assault rifle, grenades, and ammunition. Now, the man appealed the punishment against him.

Law enforcement authorities in the Netherlands received a tip from their Australian colleagues, which resulted in the arrest of the 24-year-old suspect in August 2016. According to the court information, the defendant tried to purchase an AK-47 assault rifle, handguns, a shotgun, ammunition for these weapons, and grenades from a dark net marketplace. An undercover police officer made an appointment with the suspect to sell the weapons to him. The officer offered the firearms for the suspect for 300 euros, according to the court documents. However, since it was a honeypot operation, the 24-year-old was arrested when he arrived on the scene. Both the court and law enforcement authorities disclosed only a minimal information in the case, so, unfortunately, we don’t know the exact number of weapons the suspect attempted to purchase, and how was he exactly arrested. There is a strong possibility though that the 24-year-old tried to buy the firearms from an Australian vendor, who was an undercover police officer, and when the transaction was made, he alerted his colleagues at the Dutch police. However, after a few days passed since the appeal, the Advocate General cleared the number of explosives the defendant tried to purchase from the dark web. According to him, the 24-year-old attempted to buy 10 grenades from the undercover police officer.

According to the court documents, the appeal revolves around the question whether the undercover law enforcement agent instigated the suspect to purchase the weapons and explosives. The defense believes that the police should have had a warrant at the time to proceed with the undercover operation. The prosecution stated a counter that since the defendant was looking to purchase firearms and grenades from a dark net marketplace, his clear intention was to buy these illicit items. The prosecution added that if the suspect did not purchase the weapons, ammunition and the explosives from the undercover agent, he would have bought them from another vendor on the dark web. Therefore, according to the prosecution, there was no need for a warrant in the case. In the view of the prosecutor’s office, there has been no instigation or any form of provocation that made the suspect purchase the illicit items. The communications between the accused and the undercover agent were recorded and are placed in the evidence of the case.

“The suspect is on the dark web and started looking for weapons. He invoked his right to remain silent and never wanted to clarify what was his plans for those weapons. What worries me, in this case, is that someone buys 10 grenades. A hand grenade is not suitable as a firearm for someone who wants to commit a robbery, for example, in principle. A hand grenade is just perfect if you are planning something or someone to kill or want to do great harm,” In his closing speech, the Advocate General emphasized the seriousness of the facts. According to him, the punishment of the suspect is not severe enough, and with the appeal of the defendant, he will try to impose a longer time of imprisonment for the 24-year-old. The advocate general expressed his concerns about the defendant’s dark net activity. He said that the dark net is not so easily to be accessed, and the fact that the suspect bought the weapons, ammunition, and the explosives from a dark net marketplace, make him “suspicious”.

The prosecution requested 12 months of imprisonment, six months on probation, however, the judge sentenced the defendant to eight months in prison, four suspended in January. However, on April 24, the 24-year-old appealed the judgment against him, which resulted in the case ongoing. The judge will rule on the appeal on May 9.

DEMI KESELAMATAN KITA
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