Saturday, October 22, 2011

Update: Dutch Court Rejects Heineken Kidnapper's Efforts to Stop Release of Film

As a follow-up to my recent posting on this subject, a Dutch court on Friday (October 21) rejected a lawsuit brought by one of the Netherlands’ best-known gangsters who was seeking to block the release of a film about the 1983 kidnapping of beer tycoon Freddy Heineken. Willem Holleeder, AKA “The Nose,” was sentenced to 11 years in prison for his role in kidnapping Heineken and his chauffeur and holding them captive in soundproof cells in an Amsterdam warehouse for three weeks until his family paid a $36 million ransom (based on inflation in terms of today's currency).

COMMENT: Although all four kidnappers were eventually apprehended and convicted, roughly 20% of the ransom money was never recovered. Holleeder’s attorneys argued that the movie entitled “The Heineken Kidnapping,” and starring Rutger Hauer as Heineken, would damage Holleeder’s image by making him appear more ruthless than he actually really is.

In a summary judgment, judge Wil Tonkens of the Amsterdam District Court rejected the suit without comment and said she will publish her ruling on October 28. Holleeder, now 53, is not named in the movie; filmmakers said they merged his character with that of another of the four real-life kidnappers.

Interestingly, Holleeder filed his lawsuit from prison where he is serving a new nine-year sentence on unrelated extortion charges.

After the kidnapping, Heineken became more reclusive and was believed to be the Netherlands’ richest man, worth $3.6 billion when he died of pneumonia in 2002.

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