Willem Holleeder, who was jailed in the 1980s for kidnapping beer magnate Freddie Heineken, goes on trial at a high security courtroom on Monday for his alleged role in six gangland killings.
Holleeder, 59, has been held at the Vught high-security prison for over three years, and is said to have ordered the five murders and one case of manslaughter which took place between 2002 and 2006. They include Cor van Hout, one of Holleeder’s accomplices in the Heineken kidnap and corrupt property magnate Willem Endstra.
The case is largely based on evidence provided by Holleeder’s sister Astrid, who secretly recorded conversations with her brother, and two crown witnesses, both of whom are now in witness protection schemes.
The public prosecutor said in his opening statement that Holleeder is ‘a common criminal, a blackmailer, and in our opinion, a cold killer.’
‘With this case we aim to begin to get rid of the myths surrounding this “cuddly criminal”,’ the prosecutor said, in an apparent reference to Holleeder’s appearance on a television chat show.
Defence lawyer Sander Janssen, however, told the court that there is no hard evidence for Holleeder’s involvement in the killings. The public prosecution department case is based on ‘the relationships and conflicts within the criminal underworld at that time,’ Janssen said.
In total, 65 days have been allocated to the trial and 286 witnesses have been interviewed. The public prosecution department says its investigation has not been completed but that the trial should proceed anyway.
Holleeder was released from jail in 2012 after serving five years for his part in blackmailing three property tycoons.
He was earlier jailed in the 1980s for kidnapping beer magnate Freddie Heineken. The equivalent of €16m was paid in 1983 to free Heineken and his chauffeur Ab Doderer, much of which was found buried in woods near Zeist shortly after they were freed.