Convicted Heineken kidnapper held for extortion

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 May, 2013, 5:04am


Convicted Dutch gangster Willem Holleeder, who gained notoriety for the 1983 kidnapping of a Heineken beer tycoon, has been arrested for extortion in connection with an investigation into organised crime, prosecutors say.

Holleeder, six other men and three women were rounded up after more than 450 police and army officers raided homes, businesses, safety deposit boxes and two sport schools in and around Amsterdam in a massive police operation.

"Willem Holleeder was arrested this morning and is suspected of being involved in extortion," public prosecution spokesman Wim de Bruin said on Monday.

Known as "The Nose", Holleeder, 54, became a household name in Holland for his role in the abduction of beer magnate Freddy Heineken and his driver three decades ago. The two were released after a ransom of 35 million Dutch guilders (US$20 million today) was paid. Most of the money was never recovered.

Holleeder was sentenced to 11 years in 1987 for the kidnapping and released five years later.

The Heineken kidnapping is one of the country's best-known crime sagas and was turned into a movie, with a new version planned for release next year.

Dutch media identified two of the other suspects arrested in Monday's swoop as professional kickboxer Dick Vrij and underworld figure Danny K.

Vrij and Holleeder made national news last year after being involved in a public brawl on a beer terrace in Amsterdam.

The suspected criminal ring, which prosecutors nicknamed the "Dutch network", was led by two unidentified men aged 48 and 43, both known to have worked with Holleeder, De Bruin said.

During the raids, police confiscated three weapons, 100 luxury watches, armour-plated cars, computers, documents and several hundred thousand euros in cash, the prosecution said.