Peter R de Vries: Dutch crime journalist wounded in Amsterdam shooting

Peter R de Vries
Peter R de Vries is well known for his coverage of high profile crime cases (Image: Twitter @ossumgenerator)

A prominent Dutch journalist known for investigating the criminal underworld has been shot and seriously wounded on a street in central Amsterdam.

Peter R de Vries, 64, was shot minutes after leaving a TV studio, where he had appeared on a chat show.

Mr de Vries is famed for his work on exposing mobsters and drug lords, and has helped police solve a number of high-profile cases.

Three suspects have been arrested, including the possible gunman.

The mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, described Mr de Vries as “a national hero to us all” and as “a rare, courageous journalist who tirelessly sought justice”.

The attack happened just after 19:30 (17:30 GMT), as the journalist was walking away from the studio on the Lange Leidsedwarsstraat.

Five shots were fired at close range and Mr de Vries, 64, was hit in the head, local media report.

Minutes earlier he had appeared on the TV programme RTL Boulevard to talk about the case of a hairdresser who was murdered in 2019.

‘Heartless attack’

Mr de Vries was previously given police protection after receiving threats for his involvement in criminal cases as an investigative journalist.

Mayor Halsema told the media he was fighting for his life, and condemned the shooting as a “cruel, heartless attack”.

Two suspects were arrested in a car on the A4 motorway at Leidschendam, and a third in Amsterdam following information from witnesses at the scene.

Police are appealing for witnesses and CCTV footage of the shooting but are asking people not to share the material on social media. YouTube said it had removed hundreds of videos from its platform.

‘Shocking and incomprehensible’

The attack has shaken the Netherlands, with messages of support for Mr de Vries and the safety of all journalists coming from leading figures across the country.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte described the shooting as “shocking and incomprehensible,” adding it was an attack on a “courageous journalist” and on the freedom on the press.

Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus paid tribute to an “extraordinary journalist”, calling Mr de Vries an “admirable warrior against injustice for the underdog”.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima said they were “deeply shocked” and that “journalists must be free to carry out their important work without threats.”

Investigating the criminal underworld

Peter R de Vries has covered numerous high-profile crimes, including the 1983 kidnapping of beer magnate Freddy Heineken.

In 2013 Heineken’s kidnapper, Willem Holleeder, was convicted of making threats against Mr de Vries.

One of the Netherlands’ most notorious gangsters, Holleeder was given a life sentence in 2019 for his involvement in five murders.

A novel Mr de Vries wrote about the case was later adapted into the movie Kidnapping Freddy Heineken starring Anthony Hopkins.

The journalist also won an Emmy Award for a television show he made about Natalee Holloway, a US teenager who disappeared on the Caribbean island of Aruba in 2005.

Mr de Vries frequently acted as a spokesperson for witnesses in police or court cases, and had been acting as an adviser to Nabil B, a former gang member testifying in the case against alleged drug lord, Ridouan Taghi.

The Moroccan-Dutch suspect and his associates are currently on trial in the Netherlands for murder and drug trafficking.

The case has already sent shock waves through Netherlands after Nabil B’s previous lawyer Derk Wiersum was assassinated in front of his Amsterdam home in September 2019.

A victim of a crime he reported on

Analysis box by Anna Holligan, Hague correspondent

Peter R de Vries rose to prominence reporting on the types of crimes he appears to have fallen victim to.

The attempt on his life has stunned Dutch society, particularly those in the professions where he has played such a critical role – journalism and criminal justice.

Mayor Femke Halsema described Mr de Vries as a national hero, “brave, looking for justice, free spirit, helping people in distress, parents of murdered children”.

He was immersed in the job and his involvement in numerous high-profile cases resulted in repeated calls from the underworld for his “liquidation”.

The Dutch Bar Association has released a statement describing the “brutal attack” as having an enormous impact on the legal profession.

Mr de Vries is a regular on Dutch chat shows. Last week he launched a crowdfunding campaign to try to raise a million euros to solve a cold case before the parents of the victim, Tanja Groen, passed away.

Humberto Tan, a TV presenter, described Mr de Vries as a journalist with an enormous heart.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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