Famous Dutch crime journalist de Vries died after shooting in Amsterdam

Peter R. de Vries, a well-known Dutch journalist who fearlessly covered the violent underworld of the Netherlands and campaigned to revive cold cases, has died aged 64 after being shot in a brutal attack last week. his family said Thursday.

Peter fought to the end, but was unable to win the battle,” the family said in a statement to Dutch media.

Although the motive for De Vries’ shooting remains unknown, the July 6 attack in an Amsterdam street had the hallmarks of the gangland hits that took place with increasing regularity in the Dutch underworld that the journalist described.

Two suspects have been arrested. Dutch police said the suspected shooter is a 21-year-old Dutchman, and a 35-year-old Polish man living in the Netherlands is accused of driving the getaway car. They were arrested not long after de Vries was injured.

De Vries grew up rapidly from a young cub reporter to the most famous Dutch journalist. He was a mainstay for families of murdered or missing children, a champion of injustice and a thorn in the side of gangsters.

“Peter has lived by his conviction: ‘You cannot be free on a bent knee,'” the family statement said. “We are incredibly proud of him and at the same time inconsolable.”

De Vries has been fighting for his life in an Amsterdam hospital since the attack. The statement said he died surrounded by loved ones and requested privacy for the family and partner van de Vries “to process his death in peace”. Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

The shooting took place after De Vries had one of his regular appearances in a current affairs program on television. He had recently been an adviser and confidant to a witness in the trial of the alleged leader and other members of a crime gang that police described as a “well-oiled killing machine”.

The suspected gangland leader, Ridouan Taghi, was extradited from Dubai to the Netherlands in 2019. He remains in custody along with 16 other suspects while on trial.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte led the tributes to De Vries in the Netherlands.

“Peter R. de Vries was always dedicated, tenacious, afraid of nothing and no one. Always looking for the truth and standing up for justice,” Rutte said in a tweet. “And that makes it all the more dramatic that he himself has now become the victim of a great injustice.”

The death of Peter R. de Vries struck me deeply. It’s almost impossible to comprehend. My thoughts are with his family, his relatives, friends, colleagues, all the people who were close to him and I wish them a lot of strength in this imaginable difficult moment. pic.twitter.com/FKQ8aBjW2i

— Mark Rutte (@MinPres) July 15, 2021

King Willem Alexander called the shooting of De Vries last week ‘an attack on journalism, the cornerstone of our constitutional state and therefore also an attack on the rule of law’.

The murder also struck a chord elsewhere in Europe, where murders of reporters are rare. The killings of journalists in Slovakia and Malta in recent years have raised concerns about the safety of reporters in developed, democratic societies.

In a tweet, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was “deeply saddened by the news of the death of Peter R. de Vries. I want to extend my condolences to his family and loved ones.”

She added: “Investigative journalists are vital to our democracies. We must do everything we can to protect them.”

Deeply saddened by the news of the death of Peter R. de Vries. I want to express my condolences to his family and loved ones.

Investigative journalists are vital to our democracies. We must do everything we can to protect them.

— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) July 15, 2021

De Vries won an International Emmy in 2008 for a television program he made about the disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway during her vacation on the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba in 2005.

In 2018, as spokesperson for the family of an 11-year-old boy who was assaulted and murdered in 1998, de Vries called for tips on the whereabouts of a suspect identified in a DNA test.

“I can’t live with the idea that he won’t be arrested,” de Vries said during a call for help at a television press conference. “I will not rest until it happens.”

The suspect was arrested a few weeks later in Spain and convicted last year for the death of the boy, Nicky Verstappen.

De Vries’ comment about the suspect in Nicky’s murder summed up the tenacity that was a cornerstone of a career in which he reported on some of the Netherlands’ most notorious crimes, including the 1983 kidnapping of beer magnate Freddy Heineken.

In 1994, following a tip, de Vries tracked down one of the kidnappers in Paraguay.

He befriended one of the other kidnappers, Cor van Hout, who was later shot in Amsterdam. Another kidnapper, Willem Holleeder, Van Hout’s brother-in-law, was convicted in 2019 for inciting the murder of Van Hout and four other people. Holleeder was sentenced to life imprisonment.

De Vries was also known for his dogged campaign to uncover the truth behind the 1994 murder of a 23-year-old woman, Christel Ambrosius. Two men from the town where she was murdered were sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1995, but de Vries refused to believe they were guilty.

They were acquitted in 2002 and in 2008 another man was convicted of the murder of Ambrosius.

Minister of Justice Ferd Grapperhaus called de Vries ‘a brave man who lived without compromise. He would not be intimidated by criminals.”

Grapperhaus said he “has been tracking injustice all his life. In doing so, he made a huge contribution to our democratic state. He was part of the foundation.”

(AP)

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