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Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Courthouse News Service
Tuesday, February 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Murder trial of Dutch journalist gets second start

The 2021 shooting of Peter R. de Vries sent shockwaves across Europe and raised concerns about the safety of journalists. 

AMSTERDAM (CN) — In the high-security courtroom in Amsterdam known as the Bunker, prosecutors on Tuesday began making their case for the second time against the men charged with the assassination of famed Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries. 

The District Court of Amsterdam was set to announce a verdict in 2022 during the original trial, where two men were charged with murder, but after new evidence emerged and one of the judges moved abroad, the proceedings were scrapped. Prosecutors have now charged nine defendants with the murder and sharing images of the attack to stoke fear over organized crime. 

The 64-year-old journalist was walking on a crowded street to his car in Amsterdam after a TV appearance when he was shot multiple times in July 2021. He died of his injuries nine days later.

Less than an hour after the incident, police arrested a man identified as Delano G. for the shooting and Kamil E. for driving the getaway car. Dutch authorities do not release the full names of defendants.

New evidence led the police to arrest seven other men, including one accused of orchestrating the attack. Investigators believe de Vries’ murder was connected to his involvement in the Marengo trial, a massive gangland case in which 17 suspects have been charged with five murders. 

At the time of his death, de Vries was serving as a confidant for the main prosecution witness in that case. Both the brother and the lawyer of the witness have also been killed during the trial. 

All of the men charged in de Vries' killing have denied involvement. Erickson O., who is accused of acting as a lookout and later posting images of de Vries’ dead body online, told judges he had no connection to the case. “I did not know [de Vries] and did not know that he was known,” the 28-year-old said. Most of the defendants invoked their right to remain silent. 

For most of the hearing, the judge read from the extensive case file and posed questions to the defendants, none of whom answered. The court showed images from security footage, including a man with distinctive tattoos similar to Kamil E. walking along the street where the murder took place. The police say he was planning the attack, but the 37-year-old denied he was the person in the images. 

Prosecutors in the original trial asked for a life sentence for the original two suspects. They have not yet presented their request in the current case. 

Both of de Vries’ children — daughter Kelly and son Royce — sat behind the nine defendants and their lawyers in the crowded courtroom. They looked away as images of their father’s murder were shown in court, including a film of de Vries lying on the ground bleeding. At one point, his daughter left the courtroom. 

During the previous trial, the siblings both gave victim impact statements about the loss of their father. They will have an opportunity to address the court on Wednesday. 

De Vries was a household name in the Netherlands. He rose to prominence after covering the 1983 kidnapping of Heineken heir Freddy Heineken by Willem Holleeder. The journalist was later awarded an International Emmy for his investigation into the disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba in 2005. 

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