Willem Holleeder, the most notorious figure in organised crime in the Netherlands, has been sentenced to life in prison for ordering five murders between 2002 and 2006, a court in Amsterdam ruled.
Holleeder, 61, known in Dutch media by his nickname “The Nose” is best known for his earlier conviction in the 1983 kidnapping of beer tycoon Freddy Heineken.
His lawyers had argued Holleeder was innocent of a number of charges related to gangland killings, including incitement of the murders and membership of a criminal organisation.
The lawyers said Holleeder was the victim of his criminal reputation but the judges said the testimonies of witnesses, including his sister’s, were convincing.
On Thursday, the court followed the prosecution’s demand for a life sentence against Holleeder, for, among other things, the murder of his brother-in-law.
Holleeder was arrested in 2014 for suspected involvement in the killings of Kees Houtman and Thomas van der Bijl, two infamous names in the Dutch organised crime circuit.
In 2015, charges of three other murders, of Holleeder’s brother-in-law, Cor Van Hout, real estate agent Willem Endstra and John Mieremet, were added.
Due to the massive media attention for the case, the public was banned from the courtroom but could follow the verdict via a video link in another court in Amsterdam, Dutch public broadcaster NOS reported.
During the dozens of court sessions in his trial over the murders, Holleeder rejected all the charges against him. His lawyers asked for an acquittal, arguing there was no concrete evidence of Holleeder’s involvement in the executions.
The vast file against Holleeder consisted largely of witness statements, some of which were by his own sister, Astrid Holleeder, who wrote a best-seller about her efforts to get her brother convicted.
The most famous murders in the case are those of Holleeder’s brother-in-law, van Hout, and of real estate agent Endstra.
Holleeder is also said to have formed a criminal gang with the criminals Dino S and Stanley Hillis, who was killed in 2011.