Judge orders manhunt for real-estate tycoon
AMSTERDAM - The Amsterdam real estate tycoon Bertus Lüske (55, blonde, fat, a scar on the face) is wanted by the police. The real estate broker who was conditionally freed, didn't turn up in court on Friday, where he was to stand trial for the attempted murder of three squatters.
The judge asked for his remand. Lüske had to keep himself at the disposal of justice. That was one of the conditions of his provisional release in May last year. His lawyer L. Spong had to admit Friday that his client is abroad.
The butcher's son Lüske is accused of evicting his squatted warehouses on the terrain of the former Amsterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij (ADM) too enthusiastically.
He sent on a Saturday morning in April last year "the biggest excavator that he could find" onto the yard at the Hornweg. The jaws smashed the windows of the warehouse to pieces, while behind them squatters were sleeping.
They were able to save their butts just before the jib pulled down their beds, furniture and almost a mainstay of the building.
Prosecutor A. Zijlstra did find it proven that Lüske by his "dangerous' and stupid' action had been guilty of attempted assault or even attempted murder.
Lüske, once a celebrated boxer, had dealt a squatter who had blocked the excavator with a truck, a "dosed punched". The defense kept it at "skirmishes".
Zijlstra demanded two years in prison, including six months probation. He also demanded a compensation of 1,250 guilders for the "fright and terror" that the squatters had endured. Some would still shoot straight up in their bed when they hear the sound of a motorcycle, according to their lawyer.
Lüske has always denied that he knew that squatters were still in the warehouse. Spong emphasized that his client did not know better than that the squatters slept in boats and caravans on the terrain. For that reason he went to work so early - at six o'clock in the morning -, the squatters would still be sleeping, so he could have his way undisturbed.
Some of the broad-shouldered "boys" he had brought would have inspected the building in advance. That this apparently had happened, "not that thorough" his client could not have imagined, argued Spong.
The police had to be called in, in order to stop the demolition work of the crane. Attempts by the squatters to defend themselves, were not effective: with baseball bats and throwing paving stones off the roof they were no match for the excavator.
It was Lüskes third attempt to evict the ADM shipyard, which he had bought for 27 million guilders. The municipality, which was negotiating with him about the possible sale of the yard, suspended the talks after this.
Irritation about "the tolerance of the municipality, which allows hackers to take homes from others in possession" had played a role, according to Spong, in Lüske's urge to take action himself. Lüske had previously accused the municipality to have send the squatters to his terrain.
The yard was in the mid-eighties already a squatters' stronghold. In 1995, the warehouses were cleared, but after three years of vacancy, again a little group moved in; which grew to about sixty squatters now, living in and around the warehouses.
Lüske is notorious in squatters' circles. He has the reputation to be quick to show up with a gang of musclemen on the doorstep. That reputation goes back to the eighties, when he 'swept clean' with five 'boys' the squat Lucky Luyk.
CHRIS VAN DE WETERING