Dutch court convicts 3 men for murder of crime reporter Peter R de Vries

The 2021 killing of high-profile investigative journalist known for exposing underworld had sent the Netherlands into shock.

Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries
Dutch crime reporter Peter R de Vries [File: Peter Dejong/AP Photo]

A court in the Netherlands has sentenced three men to up to 28 years in prison for their roles in the murder of prominent crime reporter Peter R de Vries nearly three years ago.

The man who shot de Vries on a busy Amsterdam street on July 6, 2021, and another who drove the getaway car received sentences of 28 years in prison on Wednesday. Another man who organised the slaying was sentenced to 26 years and one month. Prosecutors had sought life sentences for them.

De Vries died of his wounds nine days after being shot at age 64. The murder sent the Netherlands into shock and raised concerns about the ability of the underworld to eliminate a high-profile public figure who was considered a threat.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander called the shooting of de Vries “an attack on journalism, the cornerstone of our constitutional state and therefore also an attack on the rule of law”.

A total of nine men were charged in connection with the murder. Three of them were convicted of complicity and given sentences ranging from 10 to 14 years of imprisonment. One man was convicted of drug possession but was cleared of complicity in the murder. He was sentenced to four weeks in jail.

The full names of the suspects were not released in line with Dutch privacy regulations.

The sea of flowers for crime reporter Peter R. de Vries in the Lange Leidsedwarsstraat in the center of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 12 July 2021
The killing of de Vries caused grief and anger in the Netherlands [File: Ramon van Flymen/EPA-EFE]

A regular talk show guest who did not mince his words, de Vries was well-known for his television programmes, in which he often worked with victims’ families and tirelessly pursued unsolved cases. He had received threats from the underworld in connection with his work.

The reporter received worldwide attention for his investigative work around the disappearance of US citizen Natalee Holloway in Aruba in 2005, for which he won an International Emmy Award.

At the time of his killing, de Vries was acting as an adviser to a suspect-turned-state witness in the trial against Ridouan Taghi, who was sentenced to life in prison for murder and drug trafficking earlier this year.

The state witness’s lawyer, Derk Wiersum, was shot dead in front of his home in Amsterdam in 2019.

That year, Taghi took the unusual step of making a public statement denying reports that he had threatened to have de Vries killed.

Prosecutors in the de Vries case said they were convinced that Taghi had ordered the Polish men to organise the murder, but Taghi was not part of the trial.

The court said it had therefore not been able to establish a link between the de Vries’s murder and his role as adviser to the state witness.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies