A bad mix-up put an English Formula 1 fan (54) behind bars in Holland for three days.
The man came for the race in Zandvoort (winner: Max Verstappen / Red Bull) last weekend. But instead of having fun in racing, he suddenly experienced a nightmare.
Incredible: When the victim sat unsuspecting in a restaurant in The Hague on Wednesday, a heavily armed task force stormed the restaurant. The police handcuffed him and blindfolded him. The result of a fatal error: the authorities mistook him for a Sicilian Mafia boss!
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The Italian law enforcement authorities had previously issued an international arrest warrant for the man. They thought he was the godfather Matteo Messina Denaro, who has been on the run since 1993.
Still believing that the right person had been arrested, the police took the man to the maximum security prison in Vught. Some of Holland’s most notorious criminals are imprisoned here.
After further investigation, the attorney general had to meekly announce: “The man who was arrested earlier this week in a restaurant in The Hague is not the man the Italian authorities wanted.” The authorities had verified the identity of the Liverpool-born Briton. He was then released “immediately”.
Leon van Kleef, the mistake’s lawyer, said that his client had, according to his own account, traveled from his place of residence in Spain to the Netherlands to see the Formula 1 race in Zandvoort last weekend. What the man then experienced was “like a bad film, a nightmare”. Van Kleef also said he was looking into possible claims for damages.