1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Thousands pay last respects to Peter de Vries

July 21, 2021

Mourners spoke of the journalist's fearlessness as police union leaders tried to make sense of a shooting in broad daylight in central Amsterdam. A smaller funeral for family and friends will be held on Thursday.

A picture of Peter de Vries at the Carre Theatre.
Mourners paid their last respects to Peter de Vries at the Carre TheatreImage: Barbara Wesel/DW

Thousands of people queued for hours outside the Carre Theatre in Amsterdam to pay their last respects at the coffin of crime reporter Peter R. de Vries on Wednesday.

Mourners shed tears when they remembered "fearless" 64-year-old de Vries, who was shot five times in broad daylight after leaving a TV studio on July 6. He died nine days later from his injuries.

De Vries' casket was closed, but images of the renowned investigative journalist were on show inside and outside the building, including a quote of his motto: "On bended knee is no way to be free." 

What were the people saying?

The mourners spoke of de Vries' bravery, taking on organized crime and speaking up for families of crime victims in so-called cold cases, not least on the long-running TV show he hosted that cemented his fame.

Amsterdam social worker Kenneth Craig said he met de Vries years ago in his neighborhood.

"No one who knew him ever forgot him — and he never forgot anyone either," Craig said. "I don't know anyone who was as important to Holland."

 Mourners line up in the Amsterdam sun to pay their respects to Peter de Vries
Mourners lined up in the Amsterdam sun to honor Peter de VriesImage: Barbara Wesel/DW

"He always stood up against injustice and gave a voice to those who had none," Fatima said. "I don't want his death to be in vain."

"'Hero' might be too big a word, but Peter solved many unsolved cases, he did a good job," said a man from Limburg, holding a picture of Limburg boy Nicky Verstappen, one of the missing persons whose fate de Vries helped uncover.

Do we know any more about the murder?

Experts think that the murder could have been committed by the same organized crime group that de Vries had been trying to lock up in a 16-person court case.

The gang, led by Ridouan Taghi, was labeled a "well-oiled killing machine" by prosecutors.

Dutch police arrested two suspects, one accused of being the getaway driver, soon after the murder.

De Vries had been threatened in the past but refused offers of police protection, even though the brother of the witness he was advising and his lawyer were killed in 2019.

How were criminals able to kill de Vries in downtown Amsterdam?

"A lot has gone wrong in our country in recent years," said Gerrit van de Kamp, president of the police union ACP. "There was too little money for police work, and, when it came to crime, people looked the other way for a long time. Behind closed doors, however, it was allowed to really flourish and the government ignored the development. The end is this sad thing with Peter."

But he did not put the blame solely on domestic authorities in the Netherlands.

"The dark side of the freedom of movement in Europe, which is so good for our economy, is the unhindered growth of organized crime," de Kamp said.

With additional reporting from Amsterdam by Barbara Wesel.

jc/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)