The trial of suspected crime boss Willem Holleeder on four counts of blackmail has been suspended because of his health problems. Holleeder, 48, was taken to the Leiden University medical centre on Monday ‘on the advice of a prison doctor’, a spokeman for the prison service said. He is to undergo heart surgery on Thursday.
Announcing the suspension of proceedings, the court said Holleeder’s right to attend his own trial was paramount. Holleeder and a number of others are charged with blackmailing four property dealers, two of whom have since been murdered.
Holleeder, who earlier served time in jail for kidnapping beer magnate Freddie Heineken, became unwell during Thursday’s hearings and was said to be suffering from an increased heart rate, high blood pressure and stress.
His lawyer Jan-Heijn Kuijpers said at the time Holleeder was exhausted and blamed the security regime that he was being kept under. Holleeder is woken at 3am every day to prepare for the journey to court, treatment which verged on torture, Kuijpers said.
On Tuesday it transpired Holleeder has heart problems and will undergo an operation on Thursday. ‘It is a very serious situation,’ Kuijpers told reporters. He said Holleeder would need several months to recover from the operation.
Meanwhile, security around the Osdorp court complex has been further tightened up. Last week two grenades were fired at the building. No-one has yet been arrested in connection with that incident.
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