Even though they say that blood is thicker than water, sometimes a family member has a responsibility to expose crimes even if that means their relative will get into some deep water. It depends on the nature of the crime naturally, but sometimes one just has to do the right thing.
One Dutch criminal mastermind called Frederik Holleeder was nicknamed De Neus (The Nose) due to the size of his nose. His sister Astrid loved him dearly, but she couldn’t hold her silence about his crimes for a moment longer.
The year was 1983 when Holleeder was sentenced to eleven years in a Dutch jail for his part in the kidnapping of Heineken president Freddy Heineken. At the time, Holleeder demanded 35 million Dutch guldens ransom for the safe return of Heineken, but that was just the beginning of his criminal career in the Nederlands. Extortion and organized crime were Holleeder’s modus operandi, and he was very savvy at what he did.
In 2007, Holleeder was in trouble with the long arm of the law once again when he was sentenced to nine years in prison for extortion. One of the cases was that of Willem Endstra who was extorted and then murdered in 2004. Holleeder only served five years for that crime and was released from Nieuw Vosseveld prison in 2012. As of August of 2018, Holleeder is on trial for five counts of murder, as well as two counts of attempted murder.
Brother and Sister
Astrid Holleeder, 52, loved her brother dearly but she couldn’t sleep at night knowing that he was involved in crimes that included murder. After making the brave decision to wear a wire to entrap her brother for the police, Astrid was forced into hiding where she remains to this day. She was devastated to have to give up her career as a criminal defense lawyer, but she felt she had no choice.
The threat against her life is so severe that Astrid remains effectively invisible. She sleeps in different safe houses and needs to be driven around in a bullet-proof vehicle. She also owns a bunch of disguises including prosthetic noses and teeth to hide her identity lest her brother catches up with her. She even dresses up like a man on some occasions when she ventures out in public.
The decision for Astrid to betray her brother was the most difficult decision she ever made in her life. She told reporters, according to a BBC report: “I know he wants to kill me and I don’t blame him for it. In a day there are many moments someone can be there and shoot you. It’s always there. I really feel a Judas. I betrayed him.” But the trouble all started when the Holleeders were kids, and their father worked at the Heineken brewery.
Astrid told reporters that as kids she idolized her brother and even preferred him to her father. “He was like this great, strong, figure so different to our own father. I felt a lot of respect for him. He always had money in his pocket, drove big cars, always had nice girlfriends,” she said. And the two siblings were forced to become even closer as they forged a bond of fear due to their father’s brutal, alcoholic abuse. He would beat the children and their mother on a regular basis.
When Holleeder and his cohorts abducted Freddy Heineken in 1983, Astrid claims it was done as a type of revenge on her father. According to a Mail Online report: “My father adored [Freddy Heineken]. Not in a normal way … like a stalker,” she said. “So when he kidnapped Heineken that was probably the ultimate revenge on my father,” Astrid explained. But Holleeder became somewhat of a cult icon in Holland after he was released from jail.
Astrid went on to explain that when her brother was released from jail, he was given the nickname “cuddly criminal” and even appeared on numerous popular talk shows. He would also often be asked to pose for selfies in the street with people who had heard of him and respected him. Even celebrities wanted a piece of this cuddly criminal, who in reality wasn’t that cuddly at all.
Astrid explained that her brother soon rose to almost celebrity status on the streets of Amsterdam. “It was amazing. Everyone wanted to be in a photo with him; celebrities wanted to pose with him. When he rode around on his scooter everyone was yelling at him, ‘Willem, can I have your autograph?'” she explained. And even when Holleeder was sent back to jail in 2007, the public still had a positive image of him.
She went on to explain that it was frustrating as she knew her brother didn’t deserve all the acclaim he received from the Dutch public. “It was frustrating because we knew the other side. He has two faces. But we couldn’t blame the public, they didn’t know because we were silent,” said Astrid. It was at that point when Astrid decided to stop giving her criminal brother free legal advice and rat him out to the cops.
Astrid said she felt she had no choice but to wear a wire and entrap her brother. “He is like a wild beast. It is a necessity to put him behind bars. It limits his possibilities,” she said. But she was also aware that her brother was a charmer and could even talk judges around to his way of thinking. Something had to be done to stop this man, and while Astrid felt bad for it, she felt she had no choice but to intervene.
Astrid also explained that while her brother was a known criminal, he was so manipulative that most people liked him after meeting him. “He knows how to manipulate people into believing him. If you talk to him for five minutes, you like him, even though you know he committed a lot of crimes,” she said. But Astrid still maintains hidden respect for her brother despite his crimes.
Some people are just lovable no matter what they say or do. It seems that Holleeder is one such character – at least according to his sister. “After 10 minutes you don’t believe what I’ve said about him anymore, after 15 minutes you think I’m crazy because he’s fantastic,” she explained. “I had the same problem. Every time he wins my heart.”
Astrid’s decision to rat on her brother was made by herself. She knew she had to wear a wire to get incriminating evidence against him but didn’t trust the Dutch justice department. The main reason for that was because her brother had boasted to her on more than one occasion that the Dutch authorities were “in his pocket” already.
Knowing that her brother was savvy and very observant, Astrid knew that the only way to entrap him was to make a specially customized wire that he wouldn’t be able to detect. She adapted her bra and sewed the mic into her collars. “He used to pat me down. I had to be careful he wouldn’t see the red light flashing through my top, so I taped over them and colored them in.” She explained.
The contents of the recordings that Astrid was able to get were explosive. She employed the help of her younger sister Sonja for the sting, and the tapes were ultimately used by the prosecution against Holleeder in court. He lost it in court when the tapes were played and he realized he had been duped by his sisters.
Astrid explains that her brother took issue with her but more with Sonja when the recordings came out. He called Sonja a “cancer whore” in court among other choice insults. “It’s not cool to treat a woman like that. A lot of people heard the tapes and decided, well, I’m not going to help him,” Astrid said. She went on to write a heart wrenching autobiography about her life entitled “Judas.”
Even though Astrid has made some serious money herself from the autobiography, she claims she feels like no hero. She says in the book that she wishes her brother could be locked away in a palace rather than a prison and accepts that her fate will always be intertwined with his. “I’m not ashamed of the things I’ve done. I don’t want to be a hero, or powerful. I just want to be me,” she writes in the book.
Life for Astrid is hard as she lives in hiding. She also feels that one day her actions will catch up with her, even though she has no idea when that day will be. As she explained in her bestseller, referring to her brother: “We’re both sentenced to life if he gets convicted. If he doesn’t get convicted, then we both have the death penalty because I think we have to kill each other.”
Many meaningful things were written by Astrid in her book as she tries to make some semblance of sense about her situation and her brother’s life of crime. She speaks about how her abusive father played a huge role in molding her brother into what he became as an adult but also gave some vital life lessons. As an example, she wrote: “I hope that people can see coming from a dysfunctional family doesn’t mean you have to be crippled for life.”