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New evidence delays verdict in trial over killing of Dutch crime reporter

Prosecutors told an Amsterdam court new information had come to light after closing arguments that connects two men to the 2021 murder of Peter R. de Vries.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (CN) — A Dutch court ruled Monday that it will postpone its verdict in the murder trial of famed Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries until sometime in the fall. 

The Amsterdam District Court decided to include new evidence from an anonymous witness - dubbed witness 5089 - which came to light after the trial had concluded in June. Two men have been charged with de Vries’ brazen murder and prosecutors are seeking a life sentence. 

During an emergency hearing Monday that was delayed for nearly an hour due to technical issues, the Dutch public prosecution service told the court that it had only been informed of the new evidence on June 30, but the material would not change the outcome of the case. The witness had first contacted the police in October 2021 but had refused to provide information because of concerns over safety.

“This case shows how right he is," a prosecutor, whose name has been withheld for security reasons, told the court. 

"I understand the decision, but it is difficult," de Vries’ son, Royce, told reporters after the hearing. Both he and his sister Kelly made emotional statements about the death of their father at the opening of the trial in June. De Vries' partner, fellow journalist Tahmina Akefi, also spoke.  

De Vries was gunned down in broad daylight on a busy street in Amsterdam in July 2021 as he was walking to his car following a television appearance. He died in the hospital a week later. His murder was seen as an attack on free media and widely condemned by European leaders.

Two men – 22-year-old Dutchman Delano Geerman and Kamil Egiert, a 35-year-old Polish national residing in the Netherlands – have been charged with murder. Prosecutors say Geerman shot de Vries five times in the back while Egiert served as the getaway driver. 

Investigators believe de Vries’ murder was connected to his involvement in the Marengo trial, a massive gangland case in which 17 suspects were charged with five murders. At the time of his death, de Vries was serving as a confidant for the main prosecution witness in the case. Both the brother and the lawyer of the witness have also been killed during the trial. During the trial, prosecutors argued last week that de Vries' murder was intended to terrorize anyone who was willing to oppose organized crime. 

Defense lawyers for the two men were skeptical of the prosecution’s claims the new information wouldn’t affect the outcome of the case.

“You cannot claim that the statements are irrelevant,” Egiert’s lawyer Ayse Çimen told the court. She argued the new information could impact sentencing, as it could provide a connection to whoever ordered the killing. Information leaked to several Dutch media outlets over the weekend claimed the new evidence connects Ridouan Taghi, the lead defendant in the Marengo trial, to the de Vries hit. 

The court initially discussed splitting the case and continuing with Geerman’s verdict on Thursday as planned. The witness apparently had very little to say about the alleged gunman. But ultimately the three-judge panel concluded the cases were too connected and instead postponed the entire verdict to later this year. 

In the past week, three other men have been arrested in connection with de Vries’ murder. Police announced on July 4 that they arrested a 27-year-old Polish man for allegedly organizing the murder. He was already in custody for involvement in other crimes. Authorities in Spain and Curaçao also each arrested a man for allegedly distributing images of the murder as part of a campaign to keep other witnesses from coming forward. Dutch authorities are working on their extradition. 

It is now unclear exactly when a verdict will be reached in the case. The court will hold another pro forma hearing in October. 

Follow @mollyquell
Categories / Criminal, International, Media, Trials

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