A court has acquitted three men of being involved in the murder of property magnate Willem Endstra in 2004, leaving one of Amsterdam’s most notorious gangland killings unsolved.
Ziya G, Ali N and Özgür C were cleared of involvement in the killing after judges in Amsterdam threw out the testimony of a crucial witness, Hidir K., Parool reports.
The verdict in the high-profile case is a setback for the public prosecution service, which had asked for sentences of between 14 and 16 years to be imposed on the trio.
But the judges said K’s evidence was unreliable and evidence from other witnesses who identified two of the suspects from photographs was not enough on its own. Traces of the men were found in a van used to observe Endstra, but this was also deemed insufficient.
Endstra was shot dead at the entrance to his office on May 17, 2004. K, who was given witness protection, said the murder was ordered by Amsterdam underworld bosses Willem Holleeder, Dino Soerel and Stanley Hillis.
Namik Abbasov, a Russian national who was suspected of being the gunman, died of a brain haemorrhage in prison in 2012.
The court said K had lied in some of his evidence and misremembered other details. Statements from other witnesses that the three men were at the crime scene did not amount to clear evidence. ‘The involvement of these three men has not been sufficiently proven on the evidence, though the scent surrounding it is not fresh,’ the judges commented.
The dismissal of K’s testimony has implications for other gangland trials where he has given evidence, including the so-called Passage trial and the pending murder case against Holleeder.
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