Dutch crime reporter, Peter R de Vries, died today after being shot nine days ago in Amsterdam. The 64-year-old, who was known for his investigations into mobs and drug lords, was shot in the head immediately after leaving a TV studio.
De Vries had previously received police protection due to his investigations into various criminal cases. Over the course of his 40 year career, de Vries had served as an advocate for crime victims and earned the enmity of several prominent Dutch organized crime bosses.
Among the high profile cases de Vries worked on was the 1983 kidnapping of beer magnate Freddy Heineken. Willy Holleeder, Heineken’s kidnapper, was convicted in 2013 for making death threats against de Vries. In 2019, Holleeder was given a life sentence for his involvement in five murders.
De Vries went on to write a novel about the case which was later adapted into the movie Kidnapping Freddy Heineken, starring Anthony Hopkins.
Local police have yet to identify who ordered the hit, or the possible motivations behind the murder. The attack has sparked outrage not only within the Netherlands, but also beyond Dutch borders.
“We will relentlessly continue to defend the freedom of the press,” Charles Michel, President of the European Council, declared on Twitter.
In recent years, Dutch reporters have come under increased threat from organized crime. In June 2018, separate attacks saw the launching of an anti-tank missile and a vehicular assault on the offices of three Dutch newspapers.
Reporters Sans Frontiers has responded to the uptick in violence against journalists by calling on European authorities to take action to protect members of the media.
“The murder of Peter de Vries is the latest in a series of murders of journalists in Europe, where organized crime represents a major danger for the media profession,” says Pavolv Szalai, head of RFS’s EU and Balkans desk.
Over the past four years, organized crime is suspected of being behind the murders of three other journalists throughout the European Union. In Italy, some 20 journalists currently live under permanent police protection; in Greece, crime reporter Giorgos Karaivas was shot in broad daylight on April 9th in Athens.
Dutch police have detained two suspects in de Vries’ murder: a 21-year old from Rotterdam, and a 35-year old man from Poland. No further details of the two men have been released.
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