Mistaken Identity Leads to Arrest at Dutch Grand Prix

An ongoing investigation takes a strange turn

Dutch Grand Prix
Orange smoke above the audience prior to the Dutch Grand Prix at the Zandvoort circuit.
ANP Sport via Getty Images

Can the activities taking place in the periphery of a sporting event be more thrilling than the sporting event itself? In the case of this year’s Dutch Grand Prix, that was certainly the case. For the race itself, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen emerged victorious, followed by Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. But off the track, things took a different turn — one that was less Ford v Ferrari and more Breaking Bad.

Turns out a Liverpool resident named Mark L. wound up arrested at the race. Why? At Jalopnik, Elizabeth Blackstock has a report on the incident — and the instance of mistaken identity that led to it. Mark L., apparently, resembles Sicilian crime boss Matteo Messina Denaro, who’s been a fugitive since 1993.

Mark L. was getting dinner with his son when police entered the restaurant, arrested him and took him to The Hague. He was later released. Mark L.’s lawyer, Leon van Kleef commented on the arrest and its aftermath to the BBC. “It would have been a genius of an Italian to have such a strong Liverpool accent,” van Kleef said.

Admittedly, Denaro does seem like a relatively terrifying figure — the BBC’s article notes that he is wanted in conection with 50 murders, and once spoke of being able to “fill a cemetery” with his victims. It’s not hard to see why law enforcement was concerned — but if it led to an overzealous arrest, that makes for an alarming detour in an ongoing saga.

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