Prosecutor seeks life in prison for convicted crime boss Willem Holleeder
The Public Prosecution Service (OM) recommended a life sentence against Willem Holleeder during its arguments in the appeal of his 2019 conviction. Prosecutors said on Thursday that it has been clearly established that Holleeder, 63, ordered the murders of five people between 2003 and 2006.
The prosecutors described Holleeder as "unscrupulous, opportunistic and calculating" and as a "master instigator" who acted as a judge and executioner that "had his victims shot." He was also "always out to serve his own interests, conveyed in money and power". In the eyes of the OM, the suspect has chosen "a life in crime." His conscience was "either poorly developed or switched off."
The Public Prosecution Service drew its conclusions from a series of witness statements, including Holleeder's sisters Astrid and Sonja. The OM discounted all of Holleeder's own statements to the contrary, and the alternative scenarios he has outlined. According to the prosecutors, the motives for the murders were "no doubt in the realm of a lust for power, envy and the pursuit of money."
Holleeder operated in an organized manner and managed to stay under the radar for years by building in all kinds of levels meant to insulate him from direct contact to criminal activity, and thus prosecution. The prosecutors called the series of murders attributed to him as acts that definitively placed him outside of normal society. They also emphasized the courage of his sisters, whose statements have helped to transform his image from that of a "cuddly toy criminal" into what they say he really is, "A cold co-conspirator of murders, lusting after money and power."
Immediately after making its recommendation, Holleeder himself noted that he was not surprised. "I expected this and I want to respond all the time, but my lawyer will present the defense later." He said he was "tired." He was impressed by the penalty demand "in the sense that I do not agree with it, of course".
The victims are Cor van Hout (2003), Willem Endstra (2004), Kees Houtman (2005), John Mieremet (2005) and Thomas van der Bijl (2006). In the attack on Van Hout, Robert ter Haak was standing next to him and was also wounded. He later succumbed to his injuries.
The court imposed a life sentence on Holleeder in 2019, in accordance with the recommendation of the Public Prosecution Service, and Holleeder appealed. The trial in front of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal is actually taking place at the ultra-secure courtroom at Schiphol Airport. Holleeder's lawyers will present their arguments on December 2 and 3. A final round of hearings will follow in January, including the defendant's last word in the matter.
The court has set June 24, 2022, as the expected date for the verdict to be released.
Reporting by ANP.