Dutch judges on Friday upheld a gangland boss’ life sentence for ordering the murders of five people, including an accomplice in the famed 1980s kidnapping of a Heineken beer tycoon.
Willem Holleeder, 64, dubbed “The Nose” because of his prominent facial feature, was originally convicted and sentenced in 2019 after a trial in which his own sisters testified against him.
Handing down Friday’s sentence on appeal, the Amsterdam Appeals Court said it “took into account the cold and unscrupulous way in which Holleeder, together with others in a criminal organization, decided on life and death.”
“His choices were driven by financial motives or by a desire to prevent someone else from retaliating against him or talking to the police,” it said in a statement.
Holleeder became a minor celebrity following the abduction of beer heir Freddy Heineken in 1983. The ganglord appeared on television and was even known as the “huggable criminal” for posing for selfies with fans on Amsterdam’s beer terraces.
But the public image masked the brutal reality of a gangland enforcer who ruthlessly wiped out anyone threatening his position as king of the Amsterdam underworld — including members of his own family.
His own sisters gave testimony against him during his trial, despite threats to their own safety.
In scenes reminiscent of Hollywood mob movies “The Godfather” and “Goodfellas,” he ordered the murder of Cor van Hout, his former friend and partner in crime in the Heineken abduction.
Van Hout was also the father of the children of Holleeder’s sister but was nevertheless gunned down outside an Amsterdam restaurant in 2003 after two earlier attempts on his life.
In addition to Van Hout, Holleeder was convicted of ordering the murders of so-called “banker for the mob” Willem Endstra in Amsterdam in 2004, gangster John Mieremet in Thailand in 2005, building contractor Kees Houtman, also in 2005, and associate Thomas van der Bijl in 2006.
Judges said “there is a very extensive dossier on Holleeder that contains a lot of evidence that proves his guilt.”
“The court concluded that in these offences, no punishment other than life imprisonment can be imposed.”
Holleeder, who has maintained his innocence, indicated Friday he will lodge an appeal at the Dutch supreme court, the Netherlands’ national news agency ANP reported.