Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kidnapper in Heineken Abduction Takes Steps to Stop Release of Movie

Willem Holleeder, 53, AKA "The Nose," who was sentenced to eleven years in prison for his part in the kidnapping of beer tycoon Freddy Heineken in 1983, had his legal counsel file a motion earlier today (October 20), in an effort to prevent the release of a motion picture about the highly-publicized kidnapping, in which he played a key role, claiming it misrepresents him. Holleeder is currently serving a new nine-year sentence in an unrelated extortion case.

COMMENT: The producers of
the Dutch-language movie "The Heineken Kidnapping," which cost US$6.4 million to make, and stars an aging Rutger Hauer as Heineken, is a fictionalized version of events. They said halting it days before its scheduled opening in Amsterdam (October 24) would be financially harmful to the production company, IDTV Film. Holleeder is not identified in the movie, though one of the actors resembles Holleeder in terms of physical characteristics, including a prominent nose. Lawyers for the convicted felon contend that the film depicts the kidnappers as more violent than they actually were, as it will jeopardize Holleeder's efforts to reintegrate himself into Dutch society once he is released. They emphasize that he wants to be known for what he actually did, not as his character is portrayed.

In an interview with Dutch press agency ANP, the film's director Maarten Treurniet said Holleeder's suit has no merit. Judges in the lawsuit will have to render a summary judgment before the film's release on Monday. An American film based on the kidnapping is also reportedly underway.

Heineken, who built his family empire from nothing into the world's third-largest brewer, was kidnapped as he left his office with his chauffeur. Both were kept in soundproof cells in a warehouse for three weeks. Heineken and his driver were eventually rescued by police on a tip after the kidnappers had received the ransom of 35 million guilders (US$36 million) in today's currency.

After the kidnapping, Heineken became much more reclusive and rarely appeared in public. He was thought to be the country's richest man when he died of pneumonia in 2002 with an estimated personal fortune of US$3.6 billion. Roughly 20% of the ransom money was never recovered. Fans celebrated Holleeder's release from prison in 1992, at Amsterdam's posh Hilton hotel. Nevertheless, he was convicted again in 2007, for operating a criminal enterprise and extortion. One of his extortion victims, real estate magnate Willem Enstra, alleged at the time that Holleeder had ordered as many as 25 murders. Enstra was himself killed in 2004, in a case that remains unsolved today. Holleeder has never been charged for any of those murders.

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