Expatica news

Holleeder sentenced to 9 years in prison

21 December 2007

AMSTERDAM – The Haarlem court sentenced Willem Holleeder to nine years in prison on Friday. He has been convicted of blackmailing three businessmen, leading a criminal organisation, laundering criminal money and committing assault.

The public prosecution department had demanded Holleeder be sentenced to 12 years in prison, for having conspired with various groups of individuals to blackmail wealthy businessmen, including Willem Endstra, who was killed in 2004, and Rolf Friedländer.

Five of the eight fellow suspects standing trial alongside Holleeder were convicted. They were given sentences ranging from 240 hours of community service to two years, nine months in prison.

The defence lawyers argued that there are serious doubts about the reliability of a number of witnesses who made statements in the three-year long investigation. Many of them based their statements on what they had heard from Endstra, which casts doubt on their reliability, the lawyers argued.

The court found however that the prosecution had presented enough reliable statements to convict Holleeder. An important piece of testimony came from Maria Houtman, the widow of Kees Houtman, who was killed in November 2005.

Houtman had also been the victim of blackmail by Holleeder. The court found Maria Houtman’s testimony reliable since her story was corroborated by other witnesses.

Willem Holleeder will appeal the nine-year sentence imposed on Friday. His lawyer Jan-Hein Kuijpers said this shortly after the verdict was announced.  He said his client was "extremely disappointed" at the verdict.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]

Subject: Dutch news