You are listening to: The Evidence Locker.
Our cases have been researched using open source and archive materials. It deals with true crimes and real people. Each episode is produced with the utmost respect to the victims, their families and loved ones.
A taxi driver was driving around central Amsterdam, looking for his next fare when he saw a commotion outside an office building. Three masked men were attacking two suited gentlemen. There were two women who tried to help, but one of the masked men disarmed them, using pepper spray.
The attackers bundled their male victims into the back of an orange van. It sped off into the cool November night, with the back doors of the van still open.
Kidnapping was not a common occurrence in Amsterdam and the taxi driver realised that he had to do something about it. He followed the van, driving through the narrow streets, crossing over canals, until they reached bicycle tunnel to which the security poles had been removed. The van blocked the tunnel and everyone got out, splitting up into two separate cars, making their escape.
One of the masked men noticed the taxi, walked towards it, with his gun drawn and aimed at the driver’s head. The driver could see that this man was ready to shoot if he needed to. He had no choice but to turn his cab around and leave the scene.
What he did not know, was that he had witnessed one of the most daring crimes ever committed in The Netherlands. Beer magnate, Alfred Heineken and his chauffeur Ab Doderer was taken and held in captivity for a total of three weeks. Three weeks that became a part of Dutch criminal history and changed the course of many lives.
In 1983, 60 year old Freddy Heineken was chairman of the board of directors and CEO of Heineken International. The world renowned brewery was founded by his grandfather, Gerard Heineken. By the time Freddy started working for the company, when he was only 17. His family no longer owned the brewery, but his father was still on the board.
Freddy worked diligently and bought stocks whenever he could. He created Heineken Holding, an entity that eventually owned just over 50% of Heineken International. Freddy personally owned majority shares of Heineken Holding and rose to become chairman of the board of Heineken International.
Freddy was an exceptionally gifted and charismatic businessman who has been hailed as the man who single-handedly made his family’s brewery into the global success it is today. He spent extensive time in the US, learning about distribution and marketing and incorporated whatever he could into the Heineken brand.
Freddy married Kentucky whisky-heiress, Lucille Cummins and they had one daughter, Charlene. The couple were personal friends to the Dutch royal family, owned multiple properties throughout Europe and boasted an exclusive art collection. The Heinekens were one of the wealthiest families in The Netherlands. In the 1980s Freddy Heineken’s estimated wealth was believed to have been 500 million Dollars.
He was unaware that a gang of criminals was following his every move for two whole years. Because of his limitless wealth, he made the perfect kidnapping victim. But a man like Heineken was hardly ever alone or unguarded and the gang knew they’d have to do due diligence before they could even think about abducting him.
Cor van Hout, Wim Holleeder, Jan Boellaard and Frans Meijer were childhood friends from one of Amsterdam’s poorer areas. The four of them were always together, looking out for each other – they even called themselves blood brothers. They spent their time dreaming about the future together. All of them wanted to get away from their humble beginnings and were hungry for success. Or rather, money. The dream was to be being stinking rich one day, without having to do too much work. The easiest way to achieve this, would be to go down the criminal route.
The two decision-makers of the group were Cor Van Hout and Wim Holleeder. They were inseparable and Van Hout even ended up marrying Holleeder’s sister Sonja. Van Hout owned a construction business and where others saw problems, he saw opportunities. He bullied squatters out of properties and made some under-handed deals, so much so that it came to the attention of law enforcement.
It is also believed that Van Hout and his friends committed a series of armed robberies, targeting banks and transit vans between 1977 and 1982 in Amsterdam. But there was not enough evidence to charge any of them and they remained free. It is estimated that, during this time, they made the equivalent of 3.5 million Euro from racketeering. But this wasn’t enough, they wanted more.
In order to make a lot of money, quickly, the plan was to kidnap a wealthy businessman. They studied society pages in newspapers and came up with a shortlist of the richest, most influential men in The Netherlands. Their working title for their plan was ‘Operation Rolls Royce’.
They had some ground rules: the victim had to be extremely rich, but not a member of the royal family. They also did not want to abduct a politician, as their motives could be construed as being political. The victim should not be frail, but rather of good health and strong – they did not want the person to need medical attention under the stress of the situation. The group of friends had four possible targets in their sites. They were either going to abduct the CEO of Phillips, Wisse Dekker; CEO of AHOLD, Albert Heijn; Anton Dreesman the director of Vroom and Dreesman or Freddy Heineken, majority shareholder of Heineken Breweries.
By New Year’s eve going into 1983, the gang had decided that Heineken ticked all the boxes. Besides being in good shape and well connected, his wealth was indisputable. There was also somewhat of a personal connection… Wim Holleeder’s father worked at the Heineken brewery in the past, but was laid off. He struggled to find another job and drank heavily. This impacted his family and Wim Holleeder felt that making Freddy Heineken their target could be justified in a way. The truth was that his father was an alcoholic who took most of his rage out on his son and family. He probably lost his job BECAUSE he was a violent drunk and did not become that way after Heineken laid him off.
The blood brothers re-named their plan: ‘Operation Heintje’, using the diminutive form to cut Heineken down to size – as Heineken was a man who was larger than life.
The gang invested a lot of time and money in planning the perfect crime. It is believed that they invested no less than 100,000 Dutch guilders (the equivalent of 46,000 EURO). For the kidnapping to be a success, the plan had to be executed to perfection. The whole point was to make a score so big, they could live off the money for the rest of their lives. They had to keep the risk of being caught as low as possible. They did their homework by studying other famous kidnappings, like the Lindbergh and Getty cases.
One of the friends, Jan Boellaard, owned a property in De Heining, the western harbor industrial area of Amsterdam, which he used for his carpentry business. The same premises were used as an auto-wrecking yard. He was also held membership at a shooting club and was known to be a brilliant shot.
They decided to set up their operation using only German equipment, so as to make authorities believe they were German, should they ever get onto their trail. For the ransom notes, a German manufactured typewriter was purchased, as well as paper with a German watermark. It would be the perfect red herring.
The biggest obstacle the gang faced; was how they were going to receive the hefty ransom without being caught. At first, they considered the use of a pneumatic tube. This way, money could be placed in a tube at one location and be retrieved by the gang, without any direct contact. However, this was quite complicated and the margin for error was way too high.
The second idea was to have someone throw the money into the water of one of Amsterdam’s canals. The gang would then retrieve it, using diving equipment. However, the weight of such a large amount of money would make it difficult to handle under water. There was of course the option to ask for money to be given in 1000 guilder notes, but as this denomination was not used that often, it would have been easier to trace afterwards, and that could have led to their capture. This method was not an option either.
In the end, they settled on an idea that would give them most control of the situation: they would have a lone person follow instructions from one point to the next, driving across the entire country. They would leave a walkie talkie with one of the notes and use it to communicate with the person. At a random spot, they would tell him to pull off the road and leave the money. Once he was gone, they would take the money and take it to a hidden location in the woods near Zeist, where they would bury the bulk of it. That is, after splitting some of the cash amongst themselves first, of course.
As the preparation came to an end, the gang felt ready to take action. Several attempts were made to kidnap Heineken, with the assailants waiting outside his home in Noordwijk, De Ark. It usually failed because Freddy Heineken and his driver did not show up. They knew that his driver would not let Heineken go without a fight, so it was always part of the plan to take Doderer too.
Then something happened that put their plans on hold for a while. In the summer of 1983, an anonymous person who was NOT related to the blood brothers, called Heineken brewery with an ominous threat. The man threatened to poison random batches of beer in Amsterdam shops, unless Heineken paid the equivalent of 20 million Dollars.
The prospective kidnappers kept an eye on the story in the news and waited till it played out. Police eventually managed to track down the man and arrested him. Freddy Heineken was so impressed with police, that he wanted to thank them personally.
On the afternoon of the 9th of November, there was a luncheon at the Heineken building for the police officers involved, as well as the minister of justice, Frits Korthals Altes. ‘The Pentagon’, Heineken’s offices, were located in the hip Amsterdam location, Weteringplantsoen. It is not at the actual Heineken brewery, but nearby.
Just before 7pm, Freddy Heineken and two women walked out of his office. From the door to his car, an armoured Cadillac Fleetwood, was the distance of about 40 feet. His driver of the past 40 years, Ab Doderer, was standing outside of the vehicle, waiting for his boss.
On his way to the car, two masked men (well, Van Hout and Holleeder) approached Heineken and grabbed a hold of him. The women tried to fend them off, but they were fought off with pepper spray. Ab Doderer ran closer to help him, but a masked Frans Meijer confined him. Both men were wrestled into the back of an orange van, where Jan Boellaard was waiting behind the steering wheel. The two women watched in disbelief as the van drove away.
In the van, Heineken and Doderer were handcuffed and their captors placed a helmet on each man’s head. The visor was taped, so they could not see anything. Heineken knew immediately what had happened and offered to write a cheque there and then. His captors did not respond.
A taxi driver who witnessed the kidnapping in front of the Heineken building followed the van till it stopped and the occupants changed into two other vehicles. When a masked Holleeder pointed his gun at the taxi driver, he left, but he was able to provide valuable information to police.
The gang and their captives arrived at Boellaard’s Romney Shed in De Heining. They had built two holding cells behind a secret wall inside the shed. In each cell was a chemical toilet and a mattress – nothing else. The dampness of the floor had soaked into the mattresses. Heineken and Doderer – In their separate cells, were cuffed to chains that were bolted into the walls. Both cells were soundproof and the men had no way of calling for help or communicating with each other. Both men were stripped of their clothing and given pyjamas to change into.
The minister of justice was informed of the abductions only minutes after it took place. He took a personal interest in the case, seeing as though he was socializing with the victim only hours before the kidnapping. It almost felt unreal that this could have happened. Queen Beatrix, as a close personal friend of the Heinekens, was also informed that same night.
On the night of the kidnapping, some hours after the captives had been secured, a parcel was dropped at a police station in The Hague. The envelope contained Heineken’s watch, Doderer’s passport and a ransom note. The gang demanded the largest amount ever asked in a kidnapping case in Europe: they wanted a total 35 Million Guilders (that would be about 16 million Euros). It had to be provided in a combination of Dutch guilder, Deutsch Marks, French Francs and US Dollars..
The gang settled on this amount, after careful consideration and trial runs, calculating exactly how much they’d be able to transport, carry and conceal in a limited amount of time. They used paper to make fake bundles of cash, weighed it to see how many they’d be able to fit into postal bags. They were not going to leave anything up to chance. If they could have handled more, they probably would have asked for more.
The ransom note explained that they would be using codenames. The police and Heineken family and company would collectively be referred to as ‘The Hare’. The kidnappers called themselves ‘The Eagle’. The instruction was, that when police were ready to drop the money, they had to place an advertisement in a newspaper saying:
“The meadow is green for the Hare.”
Only after that, would the kidnappers be in contact again.
Meanwhile, in the shed-warehouse in De Heining, Heineken and Doderer were settling into their temporary home. They had no idea that a couple of feet from the cells, inside the warehouse, it was business as usual. The construction of the cells were so well done, that people coming in and out of the workplace did not notice anything.
The four kidnappers kept their cool and managed to fool everyone close to them into thinking everything was normal. They kept their regular routines and nobody suspected a thing.
Van Hout later recalled that Heineken showed tremendous character throughout the whole abduction. He was witty and courageous and almost played the role of a psychologist to the kidnappers. He demanded better food and delicacies and even tried to bargain with one of the men to let him go. Heineken also asked for books and a stronger light globe, because reading was good for his morale. He never saw his captors faces, as they kept their masks on whenever they went into the cells.
The main caretaker was a fifth man, Van Hout’s half-brother, Martin Erkamps. He was also tasked with stealing the vehicles with which the gang transported the victims from Heineken’s office to the warehouse, as well as tying up all loose ends. The captives developed a friendship of sorts with Erkamps, who tried his best to keep them comfortable.
After a couple of days, Erkamps opened a door between the two cells and Heineken and Doderer were allowed to speak to each other for a couple of minutes a day.
The days dragged by as police and the Heinekens put their heads together. Ab Doderer kept a log of the days on his cell wall. He used his food to write a W, marking the first Wednesday, using tomato soup. Every night, when he was given his dinner, he would write on the wall.
The Heineken family and brewery were prepared to pay the money, it was not an issue, they were desperate to save Freddy and Ab. But police told them to stall, as they wanted to catch the kidnappers. From the police’s point of view: if ransom (especially one of this enormity) was to be paid in quickly, it could cause an increase in kidnappings in future, of which Heineken would most likely be a victim again. They could not make it all too easy for the criminals.
CEO of Heineken made it clear that they were not up for playing games while Freddy Heineken and Ab Doderer were still in captivity. He informed police that he would be willing to enter direct negotiations with the kidnappers it meant he could free the two men. The message was clear: if police didn’t act, they would be sidelined.
Police kicked back, incensed that the Heineken-camp showed so little trust in their professionalism. However, in the end, how things played out was in neither party’s hands. The kidnappers were calling the shots by choosing to involve police from the start.
The Heinekens informed police that the money was ready and police placed the coded advertisement in a local newspaper.
On the 12th of November, 4 days into the kidnapping, instructions for the delivery were then given by calling Heineken’s assistant, Ellie van Gans. The kidnappers wrote a script and driver, Ab Doderer was made to read it for a tape recording.
Police were instructed to find a locker at Utrecht Central Station where further instructions had been planted. Inside the locker was a typed note and polaroid photos of both Heineken and Doderer. The captives were forced to pose for ‘proof-of-life’ photos, taken inside their respective cells, holding a newspaper, showing the date. Altogether, photos were sent on three separate occasions. Interestingly, the photos were taken with two different cameras, that made police believe Heineken and Doderer were kept at different locations.
In handing over the ransom money, the kidnappers insisted it was taken from Heineken’s estate in Noordwijk called ‘De Ark’. It had to be transported in a white van with a red cross on the side. Police realised that this could not happen. A crowd of journalists had gathered and camped outside of De Ark and the van would not have been able to leave without causing suspicion.
Another four days after the first phone call, on the 16th of November, the kidnappers called Ellie van Gans again, insisting that the money be paid the same night. Recorded phone calls between Heineken’s assistant and the kidnappers make it clear how desperate she was to communicate the change of plan. She said that they had the money, but the plan with the white van would not work. However, because they were using a recording, they could not respond to what she was saying. The pre-recorded instructions, spoken by Ab Doderer and played on a loop, said:
“Instruction for the Hare. Drive alone in the VW Van. Leave in 10 minutes from now and take the money to the Schiphol-Hilton Hotel. In the driveway to the hotel, under the first streetlight to the righthand side, in the ground below, there is further instruction… In a plastic container… Follow this instruction exactly… If the white van is followed by who-ever… It’s OVER. The Eagle.”
The Eagle ended the call before Ellie could get through to them. Interestingly, Ellie did not recognize Ab’s voice. Even though she spoke to him daily, in usual circumstance, the stress of the situation was so severe, she had no idea it was his voice on the other end of the line.
The Heinekens were up in arms about the fact that police did not comply. Police tried to pacify them, saying that it was a calculated risk and they knew what they were doing. But the family was not happy. They were deeply concerned about Freddy and Ab’s safety and pressured police to come up with an alternative plan.
The first port of call was to listen and re-listen to the message from The Eagle. They followed the instructions, hoping the kidnappers had left the clues in place. Investigators went to the Hilton Schiphol, looking for the clue in the plastic container, hoping it would give police more insight into the identities of the kidnappers OR perhaps the location of Heineken and Doderer. They found the note, that had an instruction to go to another location where they found another clue. A route that crisscrossed the entire small country of the Netherlands.
Police analysed all correspondence and considered the choice of roles. The Eagle was a predator and the Hare a prey. Could they have meant it literally, were they planning their escape by air?
One of the points to where police were directed by the string of notes was a beach, the ideal place for a light airplane to take off. Police theorised that the plan was to collect the money and leave the country. Police looked at all flying schools in the Netherlands, to see if they could find anyone with a pilot’s license who also had a criminal history. In 1983, 5000 people had pilot’s licenses, but nobody had a criminal past or could be linked to the crime in any way. It was another dead end.
Then investigators received a lucky break. Two weeks after Heineken and Doderer were taken, an anonymous tip was called into police, pointing them to Holleeder and his friends.
On Saturday November 26th, police set up surveillance of Wim Holleeder, Cor Van Hout, Frans Meijer and Jan Boellaard. They also tapped the phones of their girlfriends, hoping they would gain an insight into their daily movements. Frans Meijer’s girlfriend unwittingly confided in a friend that Meijer wasn’t himself. He wasn’t eating, he smoked a lot, he lost a tremendous amount of weight in a short space of time… He was also using anti-anxiety drugs. She was worried about him. Police were wondering: why was Meijer so stressed out?
On the Sunday afternoon, surveillance on Martin Erkamps showed him ordering two take-out meals at a Chinese restaurant and take it into a warehouse in De Heining. Another one of the friends - it is not clear who – was followed and seen placing a piece of paper under a hedge at Motel Merch Becher. The note had instructions for ‘The Mouse’. It also said they were changing code names. The mouse would specifically mean the policeman chosen to deliver the ransom. The kidnappers were no longer going by ‘The Eagle’, but rather ‘The Owl’.
This was a HUGE break in the case – the proof police needed that they were looking at the right people. They decided NOT to arrest them at that point in time, hoping that they would lead them to the location where Heineken and Doderer were being held.
The second attempt at arranging the hand-over was arranged for Monday night the 28th of November. An unarmed police officer was to follow a myriad of clues throughout The Netherlands. In the trunk of the car were five postal bags containing the ransom in cash in different currencies, as specified by the kidnappers.
Investigators found it interesting that the gang requested a police officer to make the drop. They had their team of analysts find information on cases around the world and found a case in the US where the kidnapper made a similar claim. When he was caught and interviewed, they asked him why he specifically requested a police officer, he said because the money drop is the most important part of the deal, it can easily go wrong. A police officer is trained to think clearly under pressure and would follow instructions, because it’s a job, he is not emotionally involved.
Renowned crime reporter, Peter R De Vries interviewed Van Hout and Holleeder later on and they claimed they decided on this for two reasons: firstly, they figured police would probably send a cop in disguise anyway, so they thought if they requested an officer, there would not be any surprises. Also, they wanted to show police that they weren’t scared of them. It was a power play, taunting police in a way: send one of your men, we’ll get away anyway.
The driver was instructed to go to Euro Hotel in Amsterdam where he received his first tip. Police kept a close eye on their colleague. He had a hidden microphone in the car and he had to give constant updates as to his position, in case they lost visual surveillance on him. More clues were planted next to the highway and the police officer drove across the country, following each instruction to the letter.
Outside the city of Utrecht, the kidnappers communicating via walkie talkie, instructed him to stop when he reached an overpass. From there, he had to slide the money bags down a storm drain, which he did. Van Hout, Boellaard and Meijer waited at the bottom of the drain and loaded the money into a Mercedes Hanomag van, before driving off.
Even though police had surveillance on the van, in a stroke of bad luck they lost sight of the kidnappers. Dutch police had rented a night vision camera from UK authorities – at an exponential price of 100,000 guilders (today that would be 45,000 Euros). A helicopter followed the kidnappers after they collected the money, all the way to the woods near Zeist. This was a crucial moment. The van approached another vehicle, then the kidnappers changed into the other van with the money.
At that exact moment, the gyroscope that attached the camera to the helicopter broke off and they could not control the direction any longer. All they could see was the night-filled landscape of the countryside with frustrated swearing from the recovery team as an audio background.
Van Hout, Meijer and Boellaard had joined Holleeder and the gang went to the woods to hide the money in the barrels they had prepared in the months prior. They took as much cash as each of them could handle in backpacks, then made their getaway out of the woods on bicycles, the most common form of transport in The Netherlands.
The kidnappers dissipated before releasing their captives. The Heineken family was anxious and thought as soon as the money was paid, Freddy and Ab Doderer would be freed. But it didn’t quite play out like that. After 24 hours, there was still no communication from the kidnappers. There was tremendous pressure on police to find the men.
Meanwhile, the two men were left in the desperate damp darkness of their cells
to contemplate their own fate. Their captors were gone and they did not know if they would ever be found…
Thanks to another ‘lucky anonymous tip’, police learnt that the men were being held at Boellaard’s warehouse in De Heining. Even as long as than 20 years after the fact, police would not reveal the identity of the source. Police later admitted that three of the kidnappers were named by the tipster.
At 5am on the morning of November 30th a SWAT team descended in silence. At first, they found no trace of the men. The warehouse was empty and when the called out, they could not hear a response. The report went back to commanding officers and even all the way up to the minister of justice that the warehouse was the wrong location – Heineken and Doderer were NOT inside.
Just before they left, one officer acted on his gut instinct and decided to pace out the length of the warehouse on the outside, as well as on the inside. They realised the inside was a couple of feet smaller. On closer inspection, they discovered the secret wall with the hidden cells behind it. The news came over the crackling reception of the communication radios:
“They have them. They have them. Bingo. Bingo in the West!”
Finally, they had located Heineken and Doderer inside their soundproof cells. When they were discovered, they were cold and weak, but otherwise alive and well, very relieved to be free. Heineken didn’t hide his disgust at how long it took police to find them, his first words to his rescuers were: what took you so long?
Shortly after their rescue, both men had cleaned up and made an appearance for the media at the front gate of Heineken’s Noordwjik estate, De Ark. They smiled graciously and waved, thanking everyone for their support.
A journalist asked if they were harmed in any way. Heineken, always a man of quick wit, famously joked:
“They tortured me… They made me drink Carlsberg!”
And with that, everything seemed to be over. But it was only the beginning of the next stage of the investigation: police had to find the men responsible and bring them to justice. They also had to recover the ransom money and return it to Heineken.
Police were sceptical about Ab Doderer at first and wondered if he could have been involved in the plot to kidnap Heineken. But after extensive investigation, they concluded that he had absolutely nothing to do with it. He was as much of a victim as Heineken was. The kidnapping took an enormous emotional toll on Doderer and in the wake of events, he developed a stutter, something he had never had before.
After the initial relief at being rescued, Freddy Heineken’s anger festered and grew strong. Days after his release, he was interviewed at his estate in Noordwijk.
“What a cowardly crime. I find it incredibly absurd, disgusting. I would do anything in my power to prevent it from ever happening again. The criminals deserve no mercy, or it will simply happen again.”
Before fleeing, the kidnappers took 3 Million guilders each and left the rest of the money in the barrels in the woods. That meant 15 of the 35 Million was gone when police discovered the barrels in the woods a week after the exchange. During subsequent arrests, police confiscated another 7million. 8 million has never been found.
Boellaard and Erkamps were arrested soon after Heineken and Doderer were freed. Erkamps was sentenced to 8 years for his involvement and Boellaard got 12.
Frans Meijer gave himself up to police and said that he had burnt his share of the money on a beach. Meijer later escaped from a medical facility and managed to flee the country. After his escape, he managed to flee to Paraguay, but was discovered by journalist Pieter R de Vries in 1994 and imprisoned there in 1998. In 2003, Meijer relented, stopped resisting extradition and was transferred to a Dutch prison where he served the rest of his sentence. After his release in 2005, he returned to Paraguay.
Heineken and Doderer both felt, as they were recovering from their ordeal, that their main caretaker, Erkamps, deserved some mercy. A bond had formed between the captors and their caretaker. He was humane in his care of them and they both felt he was stuck in a situation he could not get himself out of.
Heineken was shocked to learn that Holleeder was one of the masterminds, as he remembered his father and said that knew Wim as a child. He even said to a journalist that Wim sat on his lap as a little boy. Holleeder would respond many years later, saying he had no recollection of ever meeting Heineken personally during the time his father worked at the brewery.
Police were under fire for losing observation on the two masterminds of the plot: 26 year old Cor Van Hout, 25 year old Wim Holleeder. They had fled to Paris, where they rented an apartment the 8th Arrondissement (Borough). They were on the run and did not make any contact with their family and friends in The Netherlands. But Cor van Hout could not keep it up and on the 12th of January, he contacted his girlfriend in Amsterdam. It was his father’s birthday and he asked her to wish him a happy birthday on his behalf. The girlfriend was confused, and said she surely could not tell his father that he had called. Van Hout wanted to know what his father thought about it all and she told him he was shocked and found it terrible. Van Hout said that he wouldn’t call again. Neither of them knew that the phone was tapped and that the whole conversation was recorded. Thanks to this phone call, investigators were able to track Van Hout’s location.
Police caught up with the men at their apartment in Paris on the 29th of February 1984, three months after they escaped. French police detained them and The Netherlands demanded they be extradited. French authorities refused. While the two countries argued about the fate of the two men, they were kept under house arrest at a hotel in France. The press descended on the hotel. Cor Van Hout gave interviews, but answered the most pressing questions with a standard: ‘no comment’. Holleeder was also present, but it was clear that Van Hout was the one who called the shots. They appeared arrogant and self-righteous, not at all remorseful.
Two years after their arrest, Heineken was frustrated about the situation. He was not going to let the men get away with what they had done to him. After his kidnapping he never went anywhere without a bodyguard and became withdrawn. It was time for Van Hout and Holleeder to pay.
In February 1986, Heineken used his influence and power (and some speculate, his money) to convince French authorities to transfer his kidnappers to Saint Martin in the Caribbean. Half of the island is French territory and the other half Dutch. When Van Hout and Holleeder arrived at the French side of Saint Marten, Heineken had orchestrated a smear campaign against the men. He had posters printed and flyers distributed, outlining the past of the two men. The people of French Saint Marten revolted in violence and made it clear that there was no place for foreign gangsters on their island, sitting on the beach sipping cocktails . Unprecedented violent protests followed and the men feared for their lives. Because of the magnitude of the situation, the men were transported back to France, where they were kept under house arrest yet again. All the while, in addition to French guards, Heineken paid security agents to keep surveillance on Van Hout and Holleeder around the clock.
After two years under house arrest, the men were given two choices: they were to be sent to prison in France, or go back to The Netherlands to stand trial. Because of the harsh environment in French prisons and the fact that the men were both homesick for Amsterdam, they relented and agreed to be extradited back to The Netherlands.
Van Hout and Holleeder received a total of 11 years (in 1987). The time spent in prison in France was taken off their sentence.
After his release, Van Hout got into trouble with the law again, caught for drug smuggling. He was sentenced to four years in prison in 1998. Once he was free, he was like a moth to a flame and could not stay away from criminal activity. He actually rose to one of the most influential members of the underworld. He was eventually killed in a mafia-style shoot-out in Amsterdam. His funeral was a grotesque affair with a white hearse pulled by eight horses followed by a procession of 15 white limousines.
Ironically, it was Van Hout’s childhood friend, his wife’s brother, Wim Holleeder that orchestrated his death. In 1996, they had a fight and went their separate ways. Each of them became known figures in Amsterdam’s criminal underworld. But with as many as five cold blooded killings, his sister Astrid decided to write a book called ‘Judas’, exposing the truth about him. His other sister, Sonja, who was married to Cor van Hout, also testified in a case against him.
Earlier this year Holleeder was convicted of ordering the murder of his former blood brother and partner in crime Cor van Hout, as well as ordering the murder and manslaughter of four other of his associates. Astrid Holleeder was asked why she decided to give her brother up. She claimed he never learned from his crimes and something had to be done to stop him.
"As a mere villain, I'd still be OK with him. But crimes of killing, that crosses a red line for me."
After his kidnapping in 1983, Freddy Heineken returned to work where he remained chairman of Heineken until 1989. He passed away from pneumonia in 2002. At the time of his death his net worth was 9.5 billion Dutch guilders.
Peter R De Vries wrote a book about the kidnapping, after interviewing Van Hout and Holleeder while they were under house arrest in France. Based on his book, William Brookfield wrote a screenplay for the 2015 film Kidnapping Mr Heineken, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sam Worthington.
To this day, the kidnapping of Freddy Heineken is one of the most well-known criminal cases in The Netherlands. It elevated the blood brothers from the streets to the notoriety of being one of Amsterdam’s biggest crime bosses. And all at the expense of the Heineken family.
If you’d like to read more about this case, have a look at the resources used for this episode in the show notes.
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