Willem Holleeder, one of the most infamous criminals in the Netherlands, was released from Rotterdam’s De Schie prison on Friday after serving six years of a nine-year extortion sentence.
In a scene befitting his former lifestyle, authorities dropped the convicted gangster off at a secret location on a public road, where he was picked up by friends, according to DutchNews.
In 2006, Holleeder was found guilty of extortion, membership of a criminal organization and money laundering. A Dutch court determined that Holleeder had been extorting money from prominent businessman and property developer Wellem Endstra, as well as two other tycoons.
Dutch authorities also believe that Holleeder is responsible Endstra's murder, although they haven't been able to prove it, NRC noted.
Before his death, Endstra -- often referred to as the 'banker of the underworld' -- told police detectives he was being blackmailed by Holleeder. The court allowed those statements into evidence as posthumously written testimony, the publication reported in 2009.
Holleeder has also been linked to the murders of another property owner, a Yugoslav drug dealer, and the owner of a cafe.
He has been linked to just about every murder in Amsterdam in the last 30 years. But the police can never pin anything on him because of a lack of evidence, Ton Theunis, a novelist and former prison guard, told the BBC.
The 2006 trial against Holleeder became an event worthy of drama. Before the proceedings began, the Amsterdam courthouse was hit by two grenades, then Holleeder had to undergo emergency heart surgery while in custody and key witness Bram Zeegers died of a drug overdose days after his testimony.
The Dutch Godfather
Holleeder rose up through the Amsterdam criminal world in the 1970s, and is most known for the 1983 kidnapping of Heineken heir Freddy Heineken. Armed with machine guns, Holleeder and his gang grabbed Heineken and his chauffeur outside of the beer factory and threw them into a van. The two men were kept in shackles inside a secret freight container in Amsterdam harbor for three weeks while Holleeder demanded that the family pay him 35 million guilders (about $21 million) ransom.
The Heineken family paid, and the two men were rescued by police as Holleeder and his accomplice, Cor van Hout, fled to France. The two criminals were eventually picked up by French authorities and extradited back to Holland, where they were convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
The kidnapping shot Holleeder to the zenith of the Dutch consciousness, and the criminal became more renowned than any criminal in the country's history.
The Heineken Kidnapping was made into a feature film in the Netherlands last year. Hollender tried to block the film's release from prison, believing it unfairly protrayed him as a ruthless killer. The filmmakers didn't use any real names -- changing Freddy Heineken to Alfred Heineken -- and the film was released despite Holleeder's protest.