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EXILED GODFATHER Gangland boss George 'The Penguin' Mitchell to give video evidence in major cyber-crime trial

Mitchell, a court was told, is prepared to give evidence on a virtual link from Spain but will not go to Germany as he believes he is under investigation there

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George ‘the Penguin’ Mitchell

George ‘the Penguin’ Mitchell

George ‘the Penguin’ Mitchell

A lawyer is to ask a court if criminal godfather George 'The Penguin' Mitchell can give evidence on behalf of the main defendant in a major cyber crime trial centred on activities in an underground bunker in Germany.

Mitchell, a court in Trier was told, is prepared to give evidence on a virtual link from Spain but will not go to Germany as he believes he is under investigation there.

Uwe Hegner, who is representing the main defendant, Dutch oddball Herman Johan Xennt, said Mitchell is ready to testify in the coming days.

Hegner says he wants to apply to connect Mitchell via video to the courtroom and, according to local media Volksfreund.de, has said that his statement will shake the credibility of another defendant who has confessed to his role in the bunker.

The trial, which has been underway for almost a year, centres on a German investigation into the former Nato facility at Traben Trarbach in the Mosel Valley.

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Cops found the facility, which was used to host darknet sites for criminals.

Cops found the facility, which was used to host darknet sites for criminals.

Cops found the facility, which was used to host darknet sites for criminals.

 

It was there in 2015 that the Sunday World tracked down the elusive Penguin in the company of his friend Xennt, the self professed 'Lord' of the darknet.

Xennt had bought the bunker some years previous when it came up for sale and registered a data centre there, but a major surveillance operation was placed on it when suspicions arose that it was being used for criminal activity in cyberspace.

A massive raid was staged on the bunker in 2019 and eight people were arrested and brought to trial in Trier accused of roles in hosting darknet sites which facilitated drug dealing, money laundering, child abuse images and communication channels for contract killings.

Undercover police had worked in the bunker and have been giving evidence at the trial behind screens out of fears for their safety.

Last week, the court heard that Mitchell, who went by the name 'Mr Green' when in Germany, is currently in Spain but will not return to Germany for fear that the public prosecutor's office will investigate him in another case.

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The underground cyber bunker at Traben Trabach, Germany.

The underground cyber bunker at Traben Trabach, Germany.

The underground cyber bunker at Traben Trabach, Germany.

 

According to Volksfreund.de investigators fear for their lives because of Mitchell's contacts with South American cartels and because he is 'associated with the murder of an Irish journalist.'

The trial has heard that Mitchell was the financer behind an earlier bunker associated with Xennt in the Netherlands where an ecstasy factory was discovered after a fire broke out.

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The court in Trier heard that The Penguin put up the €700,000 to buy it back in 1995, meaning his relationship with Xennt spans almost three decades.

Mitchell was trying to develop his own encrypted phone service at the bunker in Traben Trarbach and had his own riverside apartment in the village where he had lived on and off for a number of years.

He was regularly spotted with his pal Xennt who is accused of facilitating criminals to commit almost 250,000 different offences by offering servers and secret communication channels for them to do their business.

Xennt, prosecutors say, was the ringleader of the group and Mitchell was involved with him in a project dubbed 'Underground' which brought in a lot of 'black money.'

The trial is a first for the German criminal courts in that it is putting the facilitators of such crimes in the dock, and while evidence is due to conclude this month a verdict is not expected before the end of the year.

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Johan Xennt in Germany

Johan Xennt in Germany

Johan Xennt in Germany

 

Police files seen by the Sunday World show that 16 of Mitchell's phones were tapped during the course of the investigation and applications for surveillance warrants detailed intelligence around his suspected involvement at the very top of international organised crime.

Wire tap applications and documents show that he had connections with South American cartels, biker gangs and was behind shipments of drugs and weapons across the globe.

Despite the massive wire tap, Mitchell got spooked and slipped the net around 2017 when he was under surveillance across Europe.

He fell out with Xennt over money loaned to him and the running costs of the bunker.

The court heard this week that since the raid in 2019 when 650 police and military stormed the underground facility, it has cost more than €90k in electricity to keep it running.

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Cops found the facility, which was used to host darknet sites for criminals.

Cops found the facility, which was used to host darknet sites for criminals.

Cops found the facility, which was used to host darknet sites for criminals.

 

All eight of the defendants, Xennt, his two sons, his ex partner, three IT employees and the manager of the bunker, arrested by police went on trial pleading not guilty, but the latter has since made a confession saying he suspected the servers made 'illegal business' possible.

The 51-year-old manager has since been released from prison but the others remain in custody including Xennt, who is staying at the Trier correctional facility as the trial continues.

Mitchell is an unlikely witness at any case given his long history in organised crime.

He left Ireland in the mid 1990s and settled in Amsterdam where he was caught with stolen computer parts.

His son in law, heroin dealer Derek 'Maradona' Dunne was shot in the capital of the Netherlands at the home he shared with Mitchell's daughter Rachel.

The criminal had not been seen for decades until the Sunday World tracked him down to Germany where he had relocated from the Costa Del Sol as a war brewed between the Kinahan and Hutch organised crime gangs - both of whom he knew and had done business with.

Sources say Mitchell wanted to stay neutral in the feud and even sent orders to his operation in Ireland not to get involved.

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