Dutch crime boss to spend life in prison over 6 murders
The court in Amsterdam sentenced criminal kingpin Willem Holleeder to life in prison on Thursday. He was convicted of ordering six murders and participating in a criminal organization. Life in prison is the only fitting punishment for Holleeder, the court said. "You think you have unscrupulous and indifferent control over life and death", the court said , according to the NOS live blog on the trial.
Holleeder was charged with orchestrating five murders between 2002 and 2006 in the Amsterdam criminal underworld - the murders of Cor van Hout in 2003, Willem Endstra in 2004, John Mieremet and Kees Houtman in 2005, and Thomas van der Bijl in 2006. He also faced charges of manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, and running a criminal enterprise. The Public Prosecutor demanded life in prison against him.
The court found Holleeder guilty of ordering the murders of Cor van Hout, Willem Endstra, Kees Houtman, John Mieremet and Thomas van der Bijl. He was also found guilty of the murder of a boat trader who was killed in the assassination of Van Hout.
The court stressed the severity of the crimes the Heineken kidnapper is accused of. Holleeder led a world in which power, violence and lawlessness reigned supreme, the court said. "Fear rules in the world of crime", the judge said. "The leaders are always wary of treachery."
While there is no concrete evidence for Holleeder's involvement in the five assassinations, a whole series of witnesses linked him to these murders, including his two sisters, his ex-girlfriend, and key witnesses Fred Ros and Peter La Serpe. The Supreme Court previously determined that the authorities broke no rules in the use of these key witnesses, and the court agrees. "The testimonies are reliable and can be used in the usual way in this case", the court said.
The court also considered testimony given by Holleeder's sisters and ex-girlfriend reliable. "It was not in their best interest to make contact with the judiciary." Holleeder's lawyers claimed that sister Astrid suffered from psychiatric disorders, but there is no evidence for that, the court said. There is also no reason to believe that secret recordings Astrid made of conversations with her brother, which formed part of the evidence against him, are unreliable.
Holleeder said multiple times that he was responsible for the murder of his brother-in-law Cor van Hout. "Finally it succeeded", he said to his sister, for example. He also asked about Van Hout's inheritance and criminal assets on the night of his murder. There is enough reliable testimony to show that Holleeder ordered this murder, the court ruled. Boat trader Robert ter Haak was also killed during this assassination.
The court considered it proven that Holleeder was behind the murder of real estate magnate Willem Endsra. He discussed this murder with his sisters, telling sister Sonja that "it was him or me". Other statements also show that Holleeder, working with the group around criminals Dino Soerel and Stanley Hillis, caused Endstra's death.
The testimony of the two key whiteness and an anonymous witness, who heard Holleeder talking to other criminals in a club, convincingly showed that Holleeder commissioned the murder of drug dealer Kees Houtman, the court said. The court also considered Holleeder guilty of the murder of Thomas van der Bijl.
Holleeder also ordered the murder of John Mierement, the court ruled. The crime boss was also convicted of a failed assassination attempt on John Mieremet in 2002. Various statements from witnesses showed this, the court said.
The court did not believe the image Holleeder sketched of himself in the courtroom - that he is a 'crook' who dealt with many serious criminals, but that he cannot be blamed for the actions of others. The court pointed out that Holleeder assured them multiple times that he was telling the truth, only to change his statements later. He also invoked his right to remain silent at crucial moments. "False and opportunistic", the court called it. "With that, you seriously compromised the credibility of your statements."