A suspect in a European multinational organized crime investigation that uncovered a makeshift prison and torture chamber was previously acquitted of a high-profile murder in Wellington in 1999, according to Dutch media reports.
Nine arrests were made after Dutch police discovered seven shipping containers turned into a makeshift prison and a soundproofed “torture chamber”, complete with a dentist chair and tools including pliers, scalpels and handcuffs.
The June discovery in Wouwse Plantage, a small village in the south-west of the Netherlands, further exposed the increasingly violent underworld of Dutch gangs and their large-scale drug production and trafficking.
He was charged with the murder of Mr. King, but was acquitted by a jury after a two-month trial in Wellington High Court. At the time, the trial highlighted the drug scene in the capital.
The 31-year-old King, known most of his life by his adopted name, Trevor Raymond Heath, was shot, execution-style, in the back of the head while at Mount Holdsworth in the Tararua Ranges.
Police alleged that King, who was well known on the Wellington drug and party scene, had been seen going into the mountains with Haanstra in search of a buried cache of MDMA, also known as ecstasy.
Two months later, a hunter tripped over his decomposing body, which showed a severe head wound.
No murder weapon was found and it took six months before Mr. Haanstra, an unemployed model, was arrested and charged for the death.
In 2002, Coroner Jock Kershaw ruled that King’s killer was “unknown.”
In 2010, a police officer involved in the trial, Detective Sergeant Ross Levy, said The Dominion Post after retiring, Mr. Haanstra “was not found innocent, he was found not guilty,” and the police were not looking for anyone else in connection with the murder of Mr. King.
In PanoramaDutch journalist Eric Slot alleged that Haanstra was one of nine arrested in June, after a joint operation by Dutch and French police to infiltrate an encrypted phone system, EncroChat.
After intercepting millions of messages, the police found the containers in April at Wouwse Plantage, near the Belgian border, and placed them under observation. The police discovered that several men worked on them almost every day.
The data from the encrypted phone network included photos of the container and the dentist’s chair, with belts attached to the arm and foot supports.
The messages called the warehouse the “treatment room” and the “ebi”, a reference to a Dutch maximum security prison.
The messages also revealed identities of potential victims, who were warned and went into hiding, Dutch police said.
Slot reported that Haanstra was also a suspect in the disappearance and alleged murder of a Dutchman, Remco van der Torre, in 2008.
The police believe that Mr van der Torre wanted to sell 20 kilograms of weed and had invited people to his house before disappearing.
“Traces of blood were found in his house and someone had tried to set it on fire,” said Slot.
Mr. Haanstra was arrested, along with another man, but both were released for lack of evidence.