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Bertus Lüske in court
Today the court case against Bertus Lüske was held about his Gang of Musclemen against the ADM, in April last year. The state prosecutor asked for a sentence of 24 months, of which 6 are provisional. That Lüske didn't like so much his previous attorneys, became clear from the fact that this tome Gerard Spong was his attorney. Lüske himself wasn't present, the court wasn't amused by this. After 5 weeks in jail his sentence was 'suspended', part of the deal is however that you have to react to calls of the justice department. The verdict is in two weeks, on September 3rd.


Bertus L. took a gang of musclemen along

Jail sentence of two years demanded after eviction of squatted warehouse

By our Amsterdam' editorial office

Amsterdam, August 21st.
Against the property dealer Bertus L., who in April last year himself wanted to evict his squatted warehouse with a gang of musclemen, is yesterday for the Amsterdam court a jail sentence of two years demanded, with six months probation.

L, is accused of attempted murder, aggravated assault and destruction. The 55-year-old L. from Amsterdam tried with a gang of fifteen men and an excavator to evict his warehouse on the terrain of the Amsterdam Droogdokmaatschappij (ADM) and to demolish it.

The squatters were startled when early in the morning a jib of the shovel destroyed the facade of the building. No one was injured. However allegedly, L. would have dealt a blow moments later to a squatter.

After police arrived, L. and his disposal team retreated. The real estate broker was arrested several days later. L. has spent 35 days in custody and was then released pending trial.

The prosecutor holds the real estate broker personally responsible for the action and is for now not intending to prosecute the members of the cleanup crew.

According to G. Spong, the lawyer of the accused L. was the building prior to demolition checked. "L. did send in four people of the clean-up, including the driver of the shovel, to assess the situation. They explained that there was no one present in the warehouse. The existence of intent can not therefore been established in my opinion", said Spong.

It is not the first time that L. and squatters are clashing. In the early eighties L. send in gangs of musclemen to evict the squat Lucky Luyk. Since then, L. collided several times with the squatters.

The ADM terrain was in 1997 bought by L. for 27 million guilders. The municipality would initially develop the terrain together with L.. According to the lawyers of L. there is still no agreement between the municipality and the owner.

Verdict on: September 3rd.


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.



The spring is for free - The Autonomous warriors of the new city

A bunch of artists lived together in squats in Amsterdam in the 90's. The municipality did evict every once in a while those squats and put new buildings on this premises. The squatters talk about this in this documentary. Through this episode awareness is raised for artists who live an alternative lifestyle in Amsterdam. Artists are featured who have chosen inspiration instead of money and they live by their own life philosophy, their battle for the preservation of culture, against the current politics and the power of money, the value of their initiatives for Amsterdam, the housing of refugees, fighting for personal freedom, the civil society and the squatting movement. They're followed during their everyday doings.


‘Leader of gang of muscle-men goes into hiding to avoid jail sentence’

The Amsterdam public prosecutor A. Zijlstra, demanded on Friday, August 20th. two years in jail, six months probation, against the rogue real estate developer Bertus Lüske (55) for attempted murder of three squatters, man handeling and destruction of personal property. She also thought it was just to demand a compensation of in total 2750 guilders for four aggrieved residents of the ADM terrain.

Lüske's absence at the session caused some frictions between the court and lawyer Spong, who on two occasions asked on behalf of his client to stall the case because the public prosecutor had at the last moment made some minor changes to the charge. Although Spong had no idea where Lüske was staying, he first wanted to consult with his client in hiding. Through chairman Bartels, the court ruled that the defendant himself had weakened his defense by not being present. In fact, he should be present as this was one of the conditions for his provisional release, which followed upon the 35 days remand. For that reason his name was immediately put on the telex of wanted persons (There already seems to a sighting of some helpful Amsterdam squatters, who cycled via Lüske's office at the Weesperzijde, to his home in Huizen).

When Lüske's lawyer doggedly continued his delaying tactics, by now it was the fault of his secretary, that Lüske was not there, Bartels asked Spong to quit whining. ,,We’re not letting you treat us like little boys”, he snapped at the lawyer, who then in his turn felt offended.

After the mood was set, the substantive part of the case could start, under the watchful eye of a packed public gallery. There were people who knew exactly what happened on that fateful Saturday morning of April 24th., 1998 on the terrain of the former Amsterdam Dry Dock Company. Around six o'clock in the morning, Lüske came for the third time within a few months to his 28 million guilders costing building, which since October 1997 is inhabited by thirty squatters. This time he was in the company of fifteen burly guys and the largest shovel he could hire.

Lüske did not want to wait any longer for an eviction notice and decided himself to start the demolition. While people were sleeping, the shovel began to tear down the building. That no one was injured by glass flying around and falling concrete was a small miracle. Also two police officers who came quickly to the scene, couldn’t change Lüske’s scheme. His behaviour was somewhere between that of a cheerleader, a camp commandant and a conductor of a Finnish scream choir.

In between bossing around, the former boxer found also the opportunity to administer a "metered" blow to one of the residents, after he had refused to remove his truck, which he had parked in front of the building to protect it. Initially the victim thought that he was hit by a Neanderthals, but the description of the perpetrator: blond, slothful, scar on the face appeared to be similar to that of Lüske.

Only with the arrival of more police Lüske quit his "dangerous and foolish action", as prosecutor Zijlstra's described the actions of the accused. That Lüske had chosen an unusual time (six o'clock in the morning) and quietly pulled up, points according to the officer, to a calculated raid.

Because the facts are so serious, she wanted to disconnect the case from the squatting issue. That was not OK with Spong, as he emphasized the historical context. ,,The property is owned by him and after he had the demolition permit, he wanted to demolish. He just doesn’t understands the law and has underestimated the consequences of his action." That Lüske already twice before had visited, with a gang of muscle-men, the ADM, when he had not a license for anything, he did not mention.

Also the reputation of Lüske as uncrowned king of the muscle-men’ gangs didn’t come up in Spong's treatise on the historical context. Interestingly, in his assertion he stated that his client wanted to demolish the building because the squatters were wrecking the building. Attempted murder, according to the lawyer, was out of the question, since Lüske didn’t known better than that squatters were sleeping in boats and caravans around the building. But a moment later the counselor claimed that Lüske had firstly sent men in, to see if anyone was sleeping there. ,,This pleas in his favor, because if there had been foul play, he had not deemed it necessary to first look inside the building", according to Spong.

On the exact course of events the opinions differ. The squatters came with fairly consistent statements, while members of the muscle-men gang (employees of the companies Steenkorrel BV, Oudtzwanenburg BV, D. Kuiper Transport & Kraanverhuur and A & B dienstverlening en advies) came up with varying statements about what happened. Spong said to attach more value to varying statements because these differences are ,,a proof of good repute''.

Altogether Spong said that Lüske had paid his dues. If the court nonetheless decided to convict him, he suggested that community services or fines were called for. The compensation where lawyer Betty Wind, on behalf of the four squatters asked for, four times one thousand guilders, reduced by the prosecutor to three times 750 and 500 guilders for the beaten man, he called unreasonable. ,,We have to distribute the pain on both sides'', said Spong, who stressed that his client is ,,a victim of the policy of tolerance'', pointing to the decision (in the beginning of 1998) of the public justice department, to not (yet) proceed with eviction.

Wind in response to Spong's idea of distributing the pain equally, stated that: “no one deserves what happened to my clients’’, and said that the small amount was only an advance on the amount the victims will demand in the lawsuit against Lüske, which will follow. Given his criminal record and reputation, his name appears on the parliamentary inquiry's list of 16 persons that lead criminal organizations, it appears that Lüske has to go back to jail and his career in glamorland, which he hoped to start, has to forget. The court will give it’s verdict on Friday, September 3rd. at 13.00.