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Alfred Henry Heineken otherwise known as Freddy Heineken is best known for his involvement with the international brewing company Heineken. Freddy acted as chairman of the board of directors and CEO of the company from 1971 until 1989. He continued to sit on the board after his retirement until his death in 2002. At the time of his death Freddy Heineken was one of the wealthiest people in the Netherlands with a net worth of 9.5 billion guilders.

It was on the evening of November 9th 1983 that Freddy Heineken and his driver Ab Doderer were kidnapped at precisely 18:56.  The pair were taken from outside Heinekens office at the Weteringplantsoen in Amsterdam by friends Cor Van Hout, Willem Holleeder, Jan Boellaard, Frans Meijer and Martin Erkamps.

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Cor Van Hout, Willem Holleeder, Jan Boellaard and Frans Meijer were four friends looking to get rich quickly and decided that a kidnapping was the way to go about it. The foursome as a result began planning for it two years prior to the Heineken kidnapping. In the beginning the group were unclear of whom their victim would be with several possible candidates including Wisse Dekker (CEO of Phillips), Albert Heijn (CEO of AHOLD), Anton Dreesmann (Director of Vroom & Dreesmann) and Freddy Heineken.

The preparation needed to carry out the plan accordingly was far from easy, it required a lot of time, money and thought if it was to go well. They firstly had to get their hands on 100,000 Dutch guilders to pay for the equipment that they were going to need.  With it they made changes to a Quonset hut that Jan Boellaard possessed through his wood manufacturing company at Business Park De Heining in Westpoort. The hut measured 140 feet where inside they constructed two soundproof cells hidden behind a wall with a secret door. The hut inside was shortened by 12 feet and still acted as a workshop at the front end. Anybody entering the workshop during working hours were unable to tell that the hut was shorter or that there were two concealed cells in the back. Once the hut was fully constructed and things were in full swing the foursome introduced Martin Erkamps to the team. Martin had little involvement in the kidnapping itself and instead helped to steal cars that were needed to commit the crime.

The ransom was to be for 35 million Dutch guilders which was to be given to them in 200,000 Dutch, German, French and US banknotes. The group made clear that they didn’t want 1000 Dutch guilder notes as they wanted to decrease their chances of being caught afterwards. This caused a problem for them in terms of how to receive the money as it would be heavier due to the fact that it was being delivered in smaller bills. They also made certain to buy all of their materials from Germany as they wanted to make it look as though they were German themselves in order to create a false trail.

A week before the kidnapping was to take place the team had agreed to kidnap Heineken and his driver from his home. To their dismay Heineken never showed up when they were in place and it turned out that his routine had changed.  As a result the plan had to be changed and they were to kidnap the pair from outside his place of work. Two more weeks of observation had to be made and a clear plan of their escape route executed. This led them to the 9th November, the evening that Heineken and his driver were taken.

Heineken who was leaving the office and making his way to the car was overpowered by Holleeder and Van Hout. His driver who tried to come to his aid was then attacked by Meijer and the pair were bundled into the back of a van where they were handcuffed and forced to wear a helmet with its vision blocked out. A taxi driver who had witnessed the struggle followed the van to a bicycle tunnel where they had new cars waiting for them. It was here that they switched cars and where Holleeder chased the taxi driver away with a gun drawn towards him.  From here they kidnapper uncounted no police and were able to make it to their hut without any problems.

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Heineken and Doderer were bundled into their cells and given pyjamas to wear. The care for the two men had to be done outside of working hours as the shed was still being used through the day for work. Both  men were chained to a wall in separate cells where they had a mattress to sleep on and a chemical toilet to use. It wasn’t until four days after being captured that both their cells were opened and Heineken was aware of his driver’s abduction to. They were allowed to speak to each other for a few minutes a day but they spent most of their time alone inside their cell.

Whilst locked up the kidnappers were in contact with the police via letters, coded newspaper ads and through videotape recordings of Heineken and Doderer which they use to give instructions over the phone. The transfer of the money took two attempts as the first could not be done without the press noticing.  The second which took place on November 28th required a lone driver to follow a series of instructions that were hidden along the route. The instruction eventually led him to swap cars and drive to an overpass. He was then instructed via radio to slide the bags of money through a drainage channel where the kidnapper stood below. They were then able to load the money into a car and drive to the woods where they had previously buried barrels to hide the money.

On November 30th an anonymous tip led a SWAT team to the hut Heineken and Doderer were kept in. At first  they thought they were misled before finding the hidden cells where they were able to release the men after three weeks of imprisonment.

Soon after Heinekens release Jan Boellaard and Martin Erkamps were arrested whilst the other three managed to escape. Frans Meijer turned himself in on December 28th after spending several weeks in Amsterdam and Willem Holleeder and Cor Van Hout were caught in France on February 29th 1984. Van Hout and Holleeder were sent to one of the toughest prisons in Europe and requested that they be extradited back to the Netherlands. The extradition process took a long time and it was ruled that France could not extradite or judge them. They were therefore given a residence permit and placed under house arrest in French hotels from December 6th 1985.

By February 1986 the France wanted to transfer the two men to Guadeloupe where they would then be sent to the Dutch side of Saint Martin. After refusing to fly to Saint Martin they were flown to Saint Barthélemy. The island however became unsafe for the prisoners to remain with locals being unhappy of their arrival. As a result they were sent to the French side of Saint Martin where they again faced hostility from the locals. The prisoners therefore had to flee again, this time to Tintamarre before being brought back to Guadeloupe and then to Evry in France where they remained in hotels. The Netherlands at this point requested for extradition again and so they were arrested by the French and sent back to the tough prison from which they came. Afterwards the pair resisted extradition and were on October 1986, almost two years after the abduction extradited to the Netherlands.

Martin Erkamps was sentenced to eight years in prison in October 1984. Jan Boellaard was sentenced to 12 years in prison and Cor Van Hout and Willem Holleeder were sentenced to 11 years in prison in February 1987. They received one year less than Boellaard due to the time that they had been held in France. Frans Meijer had been given a psychiatric examination and was sent to a mental hospital which he escaped from on January 1st 1985. He was then sentenced to 12 years in prison without being present later that year. It wasn’t until 1998 that he was found and arrested in Paraguay where he was extradited 4 years later to the Netherlands.