Huge drug import 'was sparked by police'
The deal behind one of the biggest German drug busts of recent times only happened due to pressure from the police - the man who could be jailed would not have got involved without them, his lawyer said on Tuesday.
A 52-year-old man who was desperate to pay off debts and make a new start was effectively entrapped and bullied into organising the shipment of nearly 100 kilos of cocaine into Germany, his lawyer said.
Berlin's district court has been trying the man, named only as Namik A., since April, and what initially seemed like an open-and-shut case is proving to be much more complicated.
His lawyers said he would never had become involved in drug smuggling if it had not been for the enthusiastic work of an informant set to make hundreds of thousands of euros from the police if he was able to steer a big deal and bust, the Berliner Zeitung reported on Tuesday.
Police had started watching Namik A.'s cafe in Charlottenburg, West Berlin, in 2009 after an informant tipped them off that heroin was being sold there. But when they failed to gather any evidence, they sent in an informant already involved in the drugs business to try to catch Namik A. in the act, the paper said.
The informant befriended his target, meeting him around 60 times in 18 months, telling him about a friend who could arrange for drugs to be moved into Germany via Bremerhaven harbour - and then started to talk about smuggling cocaine.
Namik A.'s lawyer told the court he was keen to pay off his debts and start up a hotel, and so met the man in Bremerhaven - actually an undercover investigator - and then with the informant nagging to get on with it, he went on the hunt for someone who could provide him with cocaine.
It took him more than a year, but he found someone in Holland who was excited about the idea and said he had contacts to suppliers in South America, the Berliner Zeitung said.
Finally, in August 2011, Namik A. and the undercover investigator still posing as an employee at Bremerhaven harbour opened up a container that had arrived from Venezuela and from out between bunches of bananas they pulled bags of cocaine.
Namik A. was arrested by police as he loaded the drugs into his car and has been in investigative custody ever since.
A's lawyer told the court that without the encouragement of the Berlin state criminal police (LKA) and what he called the illegal incitement of the informant, Namik A. would never have got involved and the drugs would never have reached Germany.
Prosecutor Michael Stork has admitted a certain degree of provocation was involved in the case, the paper said, but nothing that went against the law.
He said they had caught a defendant who was ready to commit a crime. "The result shows that the tip that we got was right; that the subject was one who could realise such a big deal. Not everyone can organise a hundred kilos of cocaine," he said.
A verdict is expected to be delivered on Wednesday.