Appeal court clears men accused of preparing gangland murder

Statue of justice.

Three men who were accused of playing supporting roles in the murder of a real estate magnate known as the “banker of the underworld” have been acquitted on appeal.

The trio were cleared in 2016 of being involved in the killing of Willem Endstra, who was gunned down in front of his office in Amsterdam in 2004 on the orders of gangland boss Willem Holleeder.

But the prosecution service appealed against the verdict and compiled 12,000 pages of extra evidence in an attempt to persuade appeal court judges to sentence them to up to nine years in prison.

Prosecutors claimed that the suspects booked getaway cars and hideouts for the man who carried out the shooting, spent months observing Endstra’s office and acted as lookout on the day.

The gunman is believed to have been a Russian national who died in prison in 2012.

Holleeder was jailed in 2019 for ordering the murder of Endstra and five other men between 2003 and 2006. The case against him relied heavily on the evidence of his sisters, Astrid and Sonja, after Astrid used wiretaps to gather evidence against him.

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