By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
AMSTERDAM (Worthy News) – Dutch prosecutors on Tuesday demanded life imprisonment against two men who have gone on trial in the Netherlands over the murder of leading crime reporter Peter R. de Vries.
A Dutch court earlier examined evidence that the prosecution said links the two suspects to the fatal shooting of de Vries in a case that shocked the nation.
The 64-year-old was fatally wounded after being gunned down on an Amsterdam street in broad daylight on July 6 last year. He died of his injuries nine days after the shooting.
His killing triggered a nationwide outpouring of grief and prompted the Dutch government to step up its crackdown on organized and violent crime in the Liberal seafaring nation.
A 21-year-old Dutch national — identified only as Delano G. — is accused of fatally shooting De Vries at close range and faces a maximum life sentence if convicted. He refused to answer questions in court.
The alleged getaway driver — a Polish man named Kamil E. — has also denied involvement in the shooting. Prosecutors said the two suspects were detained less than an hour after the shooting on a motorway near The Hague, carrying the firearm in their car.
The court examined a variety of evidence including video footage and text messages. Later, De Vries’ son Royce and daughter Kelly made emotionally charged statements to the Amsterdam District Court after asking the suspects to look at them which they did.
Royce de Vries called his father a “hard worker”, not a father “who came to cut the meat on Sundays”. He described how he was taken to soccer by his father as a child, how his father sent letters to his sister when she lived abroad and how he sent his mother roses.
“He was a father, husband, and grandfather who was always there for us. With advice or with his toolbox. He was always there for us,” Royce said. “He was our rock in troubled waters. Just as he was for relatives and for everyone who was under pressure.”
Kelly de Vries told the suspects she wanted to give them “something to think about in the coming decades,” as the murder impacted several lives.
She said they should realize that the killing not only hit the relatives of the late journalist “but also your loved ones, your partners and your children, your son, Delano, your children, Kamil. They have to live with your actions for the rest of their lives.“
Addressing the suspects she noted that “Peter Rudolf de Vries will forever go down in the history books, just like you. But they will tell about my father that he was a hero.”
The children, De Vries’ ex-wife, and his girlfriend submitted a damage claim against the suspects for 400,000 euros ($428,000) for emotional damage, shock, and the cost of the funeral. Unlike in the United States, multi-million euro claims are rare for these kinds of cases in the Netherlands.
The trial comes amid renewed debate about the protection of journalists, lawyers, politicians, and others investigating or testifying in criminal cases amid growing violence in the country, which also included the killing of a lawyer.
De Vries rose to fame in 1983 after he covered the kidnapping of a millionaire Heineken beer brewer heir. In 2008, De Vries won an Emmy Award for a TV show about American teenager Natalee Holloway. She disappeared while on holiday on the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba in 2005.
More recently, De Vries began advising a state witness in the trial of an alleged crime gang boss who’s accused of numerous assassinations. Despite numerous death threats over the years, De Vries continued breaking stories about mobsters and drug lords.
He admitted on a Dutch radio show shortly before his death that he was always looking over his shoulder, Worthy News monitored. “Of course, I am trying to take these threats with a pinch of salt. I prefer when people send me flowers instead of threats. But this belongs to the job,” De Vries told a Dutch radio show.
“We, crime reporters, are the soldiers on the front lines. So this is part of it,” he said at the time. “Of course, one gets never used to the threats, but it is part of our work.”
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