Dutch crime reporter Peter R. (Rudolf) de Vries, 64, was shot on July 6, 2021, after leaving the studio of talk show “RTL Boulevard,” on which he was a regular studio guest, in the historical center of Amsterdam, the Dutch capital, according to multiple news reports. According to witnesses, the attackers shot de Vries four or five times, with at least one of the bullets hitting him in the head. The reporter was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he remained in a coma for nine days; he died of his injuries on July 15, 2021.
Within an hour of the attack, Dutch police arrested two suspects in the shooting–Delano G., a 21-year-old resident of the Dutch city of Rotterdam, and Kamil E., 35-year-old Polish national residing in the Netherlands–on an expressway near the town of Leidschendam.
On July 16, 2021, Gerrit van de Burg, who heads the public prosecution service said that the killing likely had more to do with de Vries’ role as an adviser to the main witness in the trial of an alleged drug kingpin who is accused of involvement in murders and attempted murders, than with his journalism. On June 4, 2020, de Vries had told Dutch media in a press conference that his role would be that of confidant and spokesperson for the witness. The brother and the lawyer of the witness de Vries was advising were killed in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
On July 7, 2021, the alleged kingpin’s lawyer, Inez Weski, released a statement to Dutch media in which she said her client denied involvement in the attack on the journalist. She added that her client had already denied in 2019 that he had placed de Vries on a hit list, in response to previous public allegations by the reporter.
De Vries said in December 2020 in the talk show BEAU that he had received death threats, which he attributed to the alleged drug kingpin, and that he was on an organized crime hit list due to his role as an adviser to a witness. According to news reports, de Vries was not accompanied by a security detail on the day he was shot.
De Vries had received threats in the past, saying in a 2017 interview with newspaper Algemeen Dagblad that he had received constant death threats over his reporting and public comments, though he did not specify which of his publications provoked the threats. He added in the same interview that he refused to be accompanied by a security detail, after his neighbors became distressed when police stationed security at his home in the past. He did not specify when this occurred or why he was assigned security at the time.
The trial of Delano G. and Kamil E. began in Amsterdam in June 2022 with prosecutors seeking a life sentence for both men. During the hearings, Delano G. refused to say anything about his alleged involvement and Kamil E. denied the murder charge. In July 2022, days before judges were scheduled to deliver verdicts, prosecutors filed new evidence, which forced a cancelation of the verdicts and the reopening of the case.
There have been several other arrests. In July 2022, Dutch police arrested a 27-year-old Polish man on suspicion of “directing those who murdered De Vries.” The man was already in detention for another killing. In the same month, Dutch authorities arrested three other men, two of whom were detained in Curaçao and Spain. In September 2022, a seventh suspect was arrested in Poland for allegedly helping to prepare the attack and was charged with complicity in the murder.
In November 2022, the court announced that the trial for Delano G. and Kamil E. would start over because one of the judges resigned and had to be replaced, and the prosecution announced that the new suspects were added to the case.
In January 2023, following the replacement of the judge, the trial restarted with multiple suspects, two of whom were accused of filming and photographing the crime reporter as he lay bloodied on the ground. Another suspect was alleged to have been involved in the delivery of firearms, a getaway car, and a bottle of petrol with which to light the car on fire after the killing.
In June 2023, the Public Prosecution Service announced that the court expects to continue the trial in January 2024. CPJ emailed the Dutch police in July 2023 but received no reply.
De Vries was one of the Netherlands’ most well-known reporters. After starting his career as a reporter for national newspaper De Telegraaf, he joined magazine Aktueel in 1987 as editor-in-chief and became a freelancer in the early 1990s. He reached national fame as a crime reporter in his television show “Peter R. de Vries, Misdaadverslaggever,” which was aired from 1995 to 2012, first on RTL4 and subsequently on SBS6, according to a biography on his personal website.
According to that biography, de Vries was known for his aggressive and confrontational reporting style, and he uncovered crucial information in a number of murder and organized crime cases throughout his career. He famously tracked down one of the kidnappers of businessman Freddy Heineken in 1994 and proved the innocence of two men wrongfully convicted for the murder of stewardess Christel Ambrosius, also in 1994.