Gangster loses bid to block Heineken film

October 23, 2011 - 8:01 PM
Netherlands Heineken Gangster

This photo released by A-Film, Amsterdam, Netherlands, on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, shows Rutger Hauer as Freddy Heineken in the Dutch-language movie

AMSTERDAM (AP) — A Dutch court Friday rejected a suit brought by one of the Netherlands' best-known gangsters seeking to block the release of a film about the 1983 kidnapping of beer tycoon Freddy Heineken.

Willem Holleeder, dubbed "The Nose" in the Dutch media, 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.

Though all four kidnappers were eventually caught, about 20 percent of the money was never recovered.

Holleeder's lawyers claimed the movie "The Heineken Kidnapping," starring Rutger Hauer as the victim, would damage Holleeder's image by making him appear more sadistic than he really is.

In a summary ruling, judge Wil Tonkens of the Amsterdam District Court rejected the suit without comment and said she will publish her reasoning Oct. 28.

Lawyers for producers IDTV Film had argued the movie is a fictionalized version of events.

Holleeder, now 53, is not named in the movie, and filmmakers said they merged his character with that of another of the four real-life kidnappers — although one of the actors resembles Holleeder physically, including the prominent nose that is the source of his nickname.

The defense lawyers also argued Holleeder has little reputation left to lose.

He launched the suit from his cell in a high-security prison where he is serving a new nine-year sentence on unrelated extortion charges. One of his victims was real estate magnate Willem Endstra, who had given a statement to police about a shakedown by Holleeder. Endstra's subsequent murder in 2003 has not been solved.

IDTV lawyer Jens van den Brink said halting the €4.7 million ($6.4 million) production just days before its Oct. 24 release would have been financially ruinous.

Heineken's family also declined to cooperate with the filmmakers. He had inherited a small family concern and built it into the world's third-largest brewer. 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.

The two other living kidnappers have also said they don't want the film to go forward. The fourth, Cor van Hout, was slain in an unsolved gangland killing in 2003.

An American film based on the Heineken kidnapping also is under negotiation with a different production company.