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No remorse.. no feelings.. and no doubt that I'll sue everyone in sight; SAYS TYCOON CLEARED OF KILLING RIVAL.

Byline: By PAT CLARKE

Page 13MILLIONAIRE property baron Nicholas van Hoogstraten has vowed to sue ``just about everybody'' after being cleared of killing a business rival.

Stony-faced Hoogstraten stood on the steps of the Old Bailey yesterday and said he felt ``numb I do not feel anything'' after being formally freed.

When quizzed about remorse, his lawyer said there was no reason why he should feel any as he had been cleared of killing dadof-six Mohammed Raja.

Hoogstraten who once described his tenants as ``scum'' then launched an astonishing attack on Mr Raja, saying he was a ``serial fraudster, drug dealer and moneylender''.

He added: ``This prosecution should never have been brought. I have suffered two years of legal incompetence and dishonesty.

``I have no doubt whatever that my tenants are jubilant about the fact that I have been released.''

Hoogstraten's legal team are already preparing to submit their bill for well in excess of pounds 1 million.

FlawedAnd the man leading the fight for compensation will be his legal adviser, controversial Dundee FC money man Giovanni di Stefano.

Di Stefano, said: ``He has been wronged and I've no doubt that damages of several millions will be demanded.

``Mr Hoogstraten should havebeen freed a long time ago when it became clear that the case against him was flawed.''

Hoogstraten, 58, of Uckfield, Sussex, served 17 months of a 10-year sentence for manslaughter after the killing of Mr Raja, 62.

At his trial, prosecutors alleged he had paid two men to menace Mr Raja into dropping a civil action against him for fraud.

Mr Raja was stabbed sixtimes and blasted in the face with a sawn-off shotgun in 1999 at his home in Sutton, Surrey.

Robert Knapp who Hoogstraten met during a previous jail term and David Croke both got life for murder.

Their Old Bailey trial had been told Knapp worked for Hoogstraten as a ``heavy'' and claimed theproperty tycoon had told him to ``terrorise'' Mr Raja.

An appeal court judge freed Hoogstraten on Monday after deciding the trial judge had misdirected the jury.

RejectedThe Court of Appeal quashed his conviction last July and ordered a retrial. But he has now been freed after the court rejected the case against him.

Hoogstraten's legalteam said he could not have foreseen the death of Mr Raja and the courts agreed that there was no foundation for a manslaughter case.

The Raja family won a pounds 5 million claim against him for alleged fraud in December last year.

But Hoogstraten has appealed and a new High Court hearing is due next March.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 10, 2003
Words:429
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