TV sleuth scoops up Dutch crime king

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The Independent Online
A DUTCH journalist, Peter de Vries, has succeeded where all his compatriots have failed - in reaching foreign parts that other sleuths can't get to.

This summer, according to the news magazine HP/De Tijd, he pulled off a scoop, in a career made famous by dare-devil television journalism, by tracking down Frans Meijer, the Ronnie Biggs of Dutch crime. The great kidnapper, whom no one has found for more than a decade, turns out to be alive and well and running a tatty restaurant in Paraguay .

Meijer is notorious for having masterminded the abduction in 1983 of Holland's king of beer, Alfred Heineken. He escaped from Amsterdam with more than pounds 2.5m in ransom money.

The disappearing trick, despite a comprehensive police investigation, elevated Meijer to star status. Responsibility for most unsolved crimes in the last 11 years has been attributed to him. He is alleged to be still pulling the strings behind the leaders of the Dutch criminal underworld.

His unmasking by Mr de Vries, who has earned more from writing the book and screenplay of the 1983 heist than Meijer did in organising it, makes sad reading. Tracked down to Paraguay, where he runs a restaurant called The Encounter, Meijer was shocked when confronted. He recovered to say: 'It is God's will that you are here. I have been betrayed, I knew this would happen one day.'

Meijer has repented of his sins. He is now a father to three children, speaks Spanish and has joined a church, where he is a zealous parishioner.