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Dutch Heineken kidnapper jailed for life for gangland murders

By AFP

Added 4th July 2019 01:01 PM

But the public image masked the brutal reality of a gangland enforcer who ruthlessly wiped out anyone who threatened his position as king of the Amsterdam underworld.

Dutch Heineken kidnapper jailed for life for gangland murders

A sign with the name of Willem Holleeder is displayed in the heavily secured Bunker prior to the verdict in the criminal case against Holleeder- Holleeder in 1983 kidnapped beer entrepreneur Freddy Heineken and is said to have committed five contract murders. (Photo by AFP)

But the public image masked the brutal reality of a gangland enforcer who ruthlessly wiped out anyone who threatened his position as king of the Amsterdam underworld.

A Dutch court jailed the country's most notorious gangster for life on Thursday for ordering the "liquidation" of five people, including his accomplice in the 1980s kidnapping of a Heineken beer tycoon.

Willem Holleeder's "life was determined by greed, lust for power and violence", judges said as they convicted the 61-year-old at a hearing in a secure court in Amsterdam dubbed "De Bunker."

Holleeder, nicknamed "The Nose" because of his prominent facial feature, became a minor celebrity following the abduction of beer heir Freddy Heineken and his driver in 1983. 

The burly ganglord appeared on television and was even known as the "huggable criminal" for posing for selfies with fans on Amsterdam's beer terraces.

But the public image masked the brutal reality of a gangland enforcer who ruthlessly wiped out anyone who threatened his position as king of the Amsterdam underworld.

In scenes reminiscent of Hollywood mob movies the Godfather and Goodfellas, he ordered the murder of Cor van Hout, his former friend and partner in crime in the Heineken abduction.

Van Hout was the father of the children of Holleeder's sister Sonja but was nevertheless gunned down outside an Amsterdam restaurant in 2003, after two earlier attempts on his life.

Holleeder -- who has been detained since 2014 -- was also convicted of ordering the murders of so-called "banker for the mob" Willem Endstra in Amsterdam in 2004, gangster John Mieremet in Thailand in 2005, building contractor Kees Houtman, also in 2005, and associate Thomas van der Bijl in 2006.

Judges said Holleeder "had an unscrupulous and indifferent attitude to life and death."

He will appeal against the life sentence, his lawyers said.




Holleeder is further accused of ordering "hits" on his two sisters Sonja and Astrid after they testified against him. They were foiled after a fellow prisoner told police.




"He doesn't tolerate being crossed," his sister Astrid, who wore a wire to record her brother's confessions and now lives in hiding, told Dutch newspaper NRC in 2016.




The Heineken kidnapping is one of the country's best-known crime sagas and was turned into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins.




Freddy Heineken and his driver were released after a ransom of 35 million Dutch guilders (15.8 million euros, $18 million today) was paid. Most of the money was never recovered.




Holleeder -- whose alcoholic father worked for the Heineken brewery in Amsterdam -- was sentenced to 11 years in 1987 for the abduction and released five years later.

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