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Trial opens in killing of Dutch crime reporter

June 7, 2022

The full trial of two men charged with killing Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries opened in Amsterdam. De Vries, one of the Netherlands' most famous crime reporters, was fatally shot dead in the street last July.

Peter R. de Vries speaking at a press interview in the weeks before his death
De Vries's appearances on national television earned him a reputation for seeking justiceImage: Remko de Waal/ANP/picture alliance

Two suspects appeared before a Dutch court on Tuesday over the killing of Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries in a shooting that shocked the Netherlands.

The gun attack on the journalist, who died nine days later, has been linked to his investigation into an organized crime group whose alleged leader has been on trial.

What did the suspects say?

Police arrested a 21-year-old Dutch man and his getaway driver, 35, on July 6, shortly after de Vries was gunned down on an Amsterdam street. They were apprehended on a highway near The Hague, with the weapon used to shoot de Vries in the car.

The Dutchman, Delano G., is accused of shooting De Vries at close range. Speaking on Tuesday, he told the Amsterdam District Court he did not want to say anything. G. has so far refused to answer questions about his alleged involvement in the shooting. 

His alleged accomplice, a Polish citizen known as Kamil E., is suspected of having driven the vehicle that was used. He denied a murder charge.

"My role in everything was only that of driver, I knew nothing about the murder and I did not murder anybody," he told judges.

The suspects' lawyers are scheduled to speak at a separate hearing next week and judges are due to deliver their verdicts on July 14.

If convicted, Delano G. faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. He has so far refused to answer questions about his alleged involvement in the shooting. 

De Vries's children confront alleged killers

The two accused showed no emotion as the reporter's son and daughter presented victim impact statements during Tuesday's hearing.

"I am looking at you, like you didn't dare to look at my father when you shot him down from behind," Kelly de Vries said to Delano G.

"Why did you shoot him? For money? Because you didn't agree with him?"

De Vries's son Royce spoke of an "unprecedented disrespect for life," and told the suspects "had you asked my father for help, instead of pulling the trigger, he would have done so."

Trial opens in killing of Dutch reporter: DW correspondent Jack Parrock reports from Amsterdam

What do we know so far?

In a preliminary hearing last October, the Amsterdam District Court was told the main details of the police investigation. That hearing did not evaluate evidence over the killing.

Experts think that the murder could have been committed by the same organized crime group that de Vries had been investigating, which is currently involved in a 16-person court case.

Prosecutors have branded the gang, whose alleged leader Ridouan Taghi is currently on trial in Amsterdam, a "well-oiled killing machine."

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called de Vries's shooting "an attack on the free journalism that is so essential for democracy, our constititutional state, our society."

What is De Vries's legacy?

The 64-year-old 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 1983 kidnapping of billionaire beer magnate Freddy Heineken. 

De Vries helped solve various "cold cases" and tried to clear the names of people convicted for crimes they did not commit.

His frequent appearances on national television shows garnered him fame and a reputation for seeking justice.

Despite receiving countless death threats, he had turned down police protection.

After his death, mourners queued for hours on July 22 to pay their respects at his coffin.

rc/fb (AFP, AP)