Dutch crime reporter Peter de Vries dies after Amsterdam shooting

Celebrity journalist was a prosecution witness in a case against an alleged underworld crime boss

Dutch crime reporter Peter R de Vries has died in hospital nine days after he was shot at least five times in an ambush in Amsterdam.

De Vries, 64, a prominent investigative journalist and commentator, was gunned down on July 7 as he left a television studio after appearing on a chat show in the Dutch capital.

The reporter was taken to hospital where he had been fighting for his life.

“Peter fought until the end, but he has lost the battle,” his family said in a statement on Thursday.

“He was surrounded by the people who loved him when he died.”

De Vries — who first won fame for his reporting on the kidnapping of Heineken millionaire Freddy Heineken in 1983 — had been involved in a court case against one of the country's most wanted drug barons.

He had been advising the key prosecution witness in the trial of Ridouan Taghi, an alleged underworld crime boss who was deported from Dubai to the Netherlands to face charges.

The attack on De Vries sparked widespread condemnation, with European Council president Charles Michel calling it an “attack against our values".

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the shooting was “shocking and incomprehensible." He said it was an attack on a “courageous journalist” and the freedom of the press.

Two suspects were arrested shortly after the shooting and briefly appeared in court last Friday.

The two men, identified by Dutch media as Polish national Kamil E, aged 35, and Delano G, 21, will remain in custody for another two weeks, said the Amsterdam District Court.

Police arrested the two suspects in a car near The Hague shortly after the shooting.

Dutch media reports said Kamil E, a Polish citizen living in the small central Dutch town of Maurik, allegedly drove the getaway car, while Delano G, from Rotterdam, is believed to have pulled the trigger.

De Vries often appeared as a commentator or spokesman for families of crime victims, particularly in cold cases.

Most recently he acted as adviser and confidant of Nabil B, the state's key witness in the case against Taghi, described as the country's most wanted criminal.

Taghi's organised crime group has been described as a “well-oiled killing machine” by prosecutors, and De Vries said on Twitter in 2019 that according to police information he was on Taghi's hit list.

“We are not sure, but we are quite convinced that the attack has to do with the consultative work that Mr De Vries has done for the key witness in a great mafia case,” said the Dutch Society of Journalists general secretary Thomas Bruning.

Security around the case is extra tight. In 2019 Nabil B's lawyer Derk Wiersum was gunned down in the street outside his house.

Updated: July 15th 2021, 2:33 PM
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