Tycoon Who Ordered The Murder of Business Rival Is Sued By Victim’s Family

Nicholas van Hoogestraten, who has been described by a judge as an ’emissary of Beelzebub’, is being taken to court by the wife of Mohammed Raja.

A notorious property tycoon who ordered the murder of a rival is set to appear in court over a £6million legal action launched by the victim’s family.

Nicholas van Hoogstraten — described by a judge as an “emissary of Beelzebub” — is being sued by the wife of Mohammed Raja.

A High Court hearing found van Hoogstraten had ordered the murder, even though he was cleared by a criminal court.

Mr Justice Lightman ruled in 2005 that van Hoogstraten, now 71, “recruited two highly dangerous thugs” to kill Mr Raja after he lodged a civil action against him.

“Nothing less than murder would rid Mr van Hoogstraten of this thorn in his flesh,” the judge said.

Now Mr Raja’s widow, Starbibi Raja, is seeking to enforce an order in her favour this week in the High Court Chancery division.

Her solicitors Sabeers Stone Green, said: “The family feel that this is about obtaining justice — that is why they are pursuing the judgment that was found in their favour.”

Van Hoogstraten now lives in Zimbabwe but did appear at a preliminary hearing earlier this year and is expected to do the same this week.

Raja was suing van Hoogstraten at the time of his death over a business deal. He was stabbed and shot at his home in 1999.

His killers, Robert Knapp and David Croke — who were found by the High Court to be the tycoon’s henchmen — were sentenced to life for murder.

Van Hoogstraten was convicted with them and given ten years at the Old Bailey in 2002 for manslaughter but this was quashed by the Court of Appeal.

The family brought a civil claim in 2005 but van Hoogstraten moved to Zimbabwe.

He is married to a Zimbabwean and had bought an estate there aged 19.

He has been a close associate of Robert Mugabe , the country’s president, whom he describes as “100 per cent decent and incorruptible”. By 2013 he owned 1,600 square miles of land in the country.

In 2006, he told The Sunday Times that as a result of lending £10million to Mr Mugabe: “In six months’ time, when the interest is due, it would be cheaper for them to just kill me.”

In 1968 he was sentenced to four years for paying a gang to throw a grenade into the house of a Brighton rabbi. At the trial the judge described him as a “sort of self-imagined devil who thinks he is an emissary of Beelzebub”.

Hoogstraten, 71, accrued vast wealth as a slum landlord and his fortune was once estimated at £500million. He said he had pursued wealth to separate “oneself from the riff-raff’.

He has claimed his UK assets have been placed in his children’s names, although he has reportedly channelled millions into the Mugabe regime. More cash is said to be in a trust fund in Bermuda.

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