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Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries dies

July 15, 2021

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Peter de Vries, who was shot last week, was "always seeking the truth and standing up for justice." Top European leaders also reiterated his commitment to justice.

Peter R. de Vries
Image: ANP/imago images

Dutch investigative journalist Peter R. de Vries died on Thursday after being shot in Amsterdam last week, according to a statement from his family. The statement was published by the Dutch station he had regularly worked for, RTL.

"Peter fought to the end, but was unable to win the battle," the statement said. "Peter has lived by his conviction. On bended knee is no way to be free. We are unbelievably proud of him and at the same time inconsolable." 

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called de Vries' death "almost incomprehensible." He described the journalist as "always dedicated, afraid of nothing and no one. Always seeking the truth and standing up for justice."

The mayor of Amsterdam called him a national hero, while European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen she was "saddened" by his passing.

"Investigative journalists are vital to our democracies," von der Leyen said. "We must do everything we can to protect them."

Frank Überall, the chairman of the German Association of Journalists, said in a statement that journalism has lost a "committed, courageous colleague."

Why could he have been shot?

Although it remains unclear who could have wanted de Vries' dead, Michael Kerres, the diplomatic editor of Rotterdam newspaper NRC, shed some light on the attack the day after de Vries was shot.

"It happened just when Peter and police were leaving a TV studio where he had participated in a live talk show, something he does very regularly," Kerres told DW.

"He was just walking down the street toward his car when he was attacked and probably shot five times and hit in the head."

Kerres said that de Vries had received death threats for his work on a recent important drug case.

"We know that he is a personal adviser to a crown witness in what is probably the biggest drug case we have in the Dutch courts at this moment," said Kerres. "He's involved in all major crime cases in the Netherlands over the past decade so he has a lot of enemies now."

How did de Vries become famous?

The 64-year-old reporter became a court reporter in the 1980s, going on to dive deep into the world of organized crime in the Netherlands.

He became a household name in the country due to his reporting on the kidnapping of billionaire beer magnate Freddy Heineken in 1983. 

He even became an adviser to the police on the subject, showcasing his own TV show. He was seen as one of the foremost investigative journalists across Europe and the world.

The attack on de Vries has angered European leaders and press freedom advocates.

Two suspects have been arrested so far in connection to the shooting.

wd, jc/msh (AP, Reuters)