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George 'The Penguin' Mitchell had drink problem and was "forgetful", court hears

George 'The Penguin' Mitchell

George 'The Penguin' Mitchell

George 'The Penguin' Mitchell is a forgetful "real alcoholic" with heart problems and a bad knee, a court in Germany has heard.

Mitchell often repeats himself and has little understanding of encrypted phone technology despite trying to develop his own communications system and app, a witness has told the court in Trier.

Mitchell, who goes by the name Mr Green, was the focus of evidence given by a former boss at an underground bunker in Traben Trarbach which was raided last year by 650 police officers.

His associate and alleged business partner Herman Xennt is on trial along with others for facilitating criminal activity online through the bunker where the prosecution claim dark net sites facilitating drug dealing, money laundering, child abuse images and communication channels for contract killings were hosted.

The witness, described as Michiel R, has told the court that Mitchell was involved in a project called ‘Underground’ which he has told the court brought in a lot of 'black money'.

In evidence it was heard that in 2017, while the bunker and its occupants were under increasing surveillance and while Mitchell’s phones were being tapped by German police, there was a dispute between the crime lord and Xennt.

According to the witness, during a heated exchange Mitchell demanded Xennt to return €700,000 he had loaned him to purchase a bunker in Goes, the Netherlands. "X. was scared, but also angry," the manager said. "I won't pay a cent," X said.

In his continued evidence this week Michiel R has said that he took on the task of negotiating between Xennt and Mitchell and hammered out a deal that The Penguin was paid €30k and got a completed app and information on the development of the project.

He said he continued to meet with Mitchell in his flat at Wittlich but said he didn’t understand features on the app.

Sources have told the Sunday World, independent of the trial, that at the time Mitchell was looking for new ways to invest his vast fortune as he was becoming increasingly concerned about his health and wanted to bequeath his money to his children.

The Penguin has a number of children with wife Rebecca Shannon but it also believed to have other offspring living between Ireland, the UK and Spain along with dependents of his partner Khadiba Bouchiba, his former secretary.

The Cyberbunker trial is expected to last until December 2021 and is being dubbed ‘groundbreaking’ in German legal history as it is the first time that facilitators to criminals have been tried and not the criminals themselves.

Xennt, a Dutch national, who we snapped with Mitchell in 2015 has a long history with involvement in the darknet. The bunker referred to in the Netherlands which caused the alleged row was operating as an ecstasy factory when it came to the attention of emergency services.

The court has been told that it was Mitchell who loaned Xennt the money to buy it in 1995, more than 20 years before the pair were caught up together in the Cyber bunker probe.

Xennt was 35-years-old when he bought the Goes bunker in 1995. At the time that the Garda national drugs unit had discovered Mitchell was a key player in attempts to establish an ecstasy manufacturing operation here.

He quickly left Ireland and moved to the Netherlands. Within a year Irish police launched Operation Wedgewood in a bid to stop a growing wave of large thefts and hijackings of consignments of computer parts.

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Mitchell was identified as the criminal mastermind behind the lucrative racket and was caught red handed with €5million in computer parts and jailed in the Netherlands.

Meanwhile Xennt started CyberBunker in the former Nato facility which offered ‘bulletproof hosting’ to web sites.

Within years it had become a central hub for porn sites and Xennt used the profits to buy up hundreds of servers.

In 2002 there was an explosion in a section that Xennt said he had rented out and in the charred ruins of the bunker police found the remnants of a laboratory for making ecstasy.

Xennt lost his licence but was not charged with any crime and said he knew nothing about the drug factory.

Xennt went on to declare his CyberBunker a republic and crowed himself its president, His Majesty King Xennt von CyberBunker.

He faded into the background again until he showed up in Germany where, in 2013 he bought another former Nato facility and turned it into another hosting facility.

During a lengthy German police investigation into the activities at the Bunker, 16 phones belonging to Mitchell were tapped and he was placed under surveillance as he met with biker gangs and other known criminals.

The trial will proceed twice a week and while Mitchell does not face any charges his involvement with Xennt and his underground facility is expected to form a large part of the evidence.

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