The Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries, who was seen in a 2008 photo that was taken after a television appearance, has died, it said on Thursday. Peter Dejong / AP hide caption
Peter Dejong / AP
Peter Dejong / AP
DEN HAAG, The Netherlands (AP) – Peter R. de Vries, a renowned Dutch journalist who fearlessly reported on the violent underworld of the Netherlands and worked to breathe new life into cold cases, has died at the age of 64 after working with a brazen attack was shot last week, his family said on Thursday.
“Peter fought to the end but couldn’t win the fight,” the family said in a statement to the Dutch media.
While the motive for the shooting of De Vries remains unknown, the July 6th attack on a street in Amsterdam had the hallmarks of the gangland hits, which took place more and more frequently in the Dutch underworld reported by the journalist.
Two suspects were arrested. Dutch police said the alleged shooter was a 21-year-old Dutchman and a 35-year-old Pole living in the Netherlands is accused of driving the getaway car. They were arrested shortly after De Vries was wounded.
De Vries quickly rose from a young reporter to the most famous journalist in the Netherlands. He was a support for families of killed or missing children, a fighter against injustice and a thorn in the side of gangsters.
“Peter lived according to his conviction: ‘You cannot be free on a bent knee'”, the family declaration says. “We are incredibly proud of him and at the same time heartbroken.”
De Vries had fought for his life since the attack in an Amsterdam hospital. The statement said he died in the company of loved ones and requested the privacy of De Vries’ family and partner “in order to come to terms with his death in peace.” Funeral arrangements were not disclosed immediately.
De Vries had played a role in the trial against a criminal gang
The shooting came after De Vries made one of his regular appearances on a topical TV show. He was most recently an advisor and confidante of a witness in the trial of the alleged leader and other members of a criminal gang that the police described as an “oiled killing machine”.
The alleged gang leader Ridouan Taghi was extradited from Dubai to the Netherlands in 2019. He remains detained with 16 other suspects while he is on trial.
The Administrator Prime Minister Mark Rutte directed the honors for De Vries in the Netherlands.
“Peter R. de Vries was always committed, persistent, afraid of nothing or anyone. Always looking for the truth and advocating justice,” said Rutte in a tweet. “And that makes it all the more dramatic that he has now become the victim of a great injustice himself.”
The Dutch King Willem Alexander described the shooting of De Vries last week as an “attack on journalism, the cornerstone of our rule of law and thus also an attack on the rule of law”.
Killing too hit a nerve elsewhere in Europewhere reporter killings are rare and where journalist killings in Slovakia and Malta in recent years have raised concerns about the safety of reporters in developed, democratic societies.
“We may disagree with a lot of what we see in our media, but we have to agree that journalists investigating potential abuse of power are not a threat, but an asset to our democracies and our societies,” said the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the European Parliament legislator last week.
De Vries won an International Emmy in 2008 for a television show about the disappearance of US teenager Natalee Holloway while vacationing on the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba in 2005.
He has spent his career covering some of the Netherlands’ most notorious crimes
In 2018, De Vries, as the family spokesman for an 11-year-old boy who was abused and killed in 1998, asked for clues about the whereabouts of a suspect identified in a DNA probe.
“I can’t live with the idea that he won’t be arrested,” De Vries said when he asked for help at a televised press conference. “I won’t rest until it happens.”
The suspect was arrested in Spain a few weeks later and sentenced to the death of boy Nicky Verstappen last year.
De Vries ‘comment on the suspect in Nicky’s murder summed up the tenacity that was a cornerstone of his career, covering some of the Netherlands’ most notorious crimes, including the kidnapping of beer magnate Freddy Heineken in 1983.
Following a lead, De Vries tracked down one of the kidnappers in Paraguay in 1994.
He befriended another of the kidnappers, Cor van Hout, who was later shot dead in Amsterdam. Another of the kidnappers, Willem Holleeder, who was van Hout’s brother-in-law, was convicted in 2019 of inciting the murder of van Hout and four other people. Holleeder was sentenced to life imprisonment.
De Vries was also known for his tenacious efforts to find out the truth about the murder of 23-year-old Mrs. Christel Ambrosius in 1994. Two men from the city where she was killed were convicted in 1995 and sentenced to ten years in prison, but De Vries refused to believe her guilt.
They were acquitted in 2002, and in 2008 another man was convicted of the murder of Ambrose.
Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus called De Vries “a brave man who lived without compromise. He was not intimidated by criminals.”
Grapperhaus said he had “tracked injustices all his life. In doing so, he made an enormous contribution to our democratic state. He was part of its founding.”