By MOLLY QUELL, Associated Press
AMSTERDAM (AP) – EU leaders have expressed dismay, media rights activists have demanded justice and the Netherlands was in shock on Wednesday after a Dutch crime veteran was shot dead in the city head to downtown Amsterdam after a television appearance.
Peter R. de Vries, famous for his courageous reporting on the Dutch underworld, was fighting for his life in an Amsterdam hospital after the shooting on Tuesday night.
Two suspects remained in custody on Wednesday, a 35-year-old Polish national living in the Netherlands and a 21-year-old Dutchman, while a third person detained on Tuesday evening was released, according to a Dutch police statement. Their first court appearance was scheduled for Friday.
The motive for the attack has not been revealed.
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The shooting was considered a national tragedy in the Netherlands, and dozens of people brought flowers to the scene of the attack, less than a block from the capital’s famous Rijksmuseum. Some said it had undermined their sense of security and raised concerns about upholding the rule of law.
The King of the Netherlands Willem Alexander called the shooting an “attack on journalism, the cornerstone of our rule of law and therefore also an attack on the rule of law”.
It has also struck a chord elsewhere in Europe, where such brutal attacks on journalists are rare and where murders of journalists in Slovakia and Malta in recent years have raised concerns about the safety of journalists in developed democratic societies. .
“We can disagree with a lot of things we see in our media, but we have to agree that journalists investigating potential abuses of power are not a threat but an asset to our democracies and our societies,” the said. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in the European Parliament. lawmakers Wednesday.
De Vries, 64, is the Netherlands’ most prominent journalist, who rose to fame after covering the kidnapping of a Heineken heir in 1983. He is a regular on the evening news programs and has continued to publish articles on the Dutch underworld. It won an International Emmy in 2008 for a television show about the disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway while on vacation in the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba in 2005.
“Yesterday our worst nightmare came true,” de Vries’ son Royce tweeted on behalf of the family. “As a family, we surround Peter with love and hope during this difficult time. Much is still uncertain, but what is certain is that all expressions of support from across the country now offer a huge support. ”
De Vries had long been seen as a possible target of criminals he stubbornly described. Police and prosecutors declined to say whether he had police protection.
De Vries had recently acted as an advisor and confidant to a witness in a major trial of alleged criminal gang leader Ridouan Taghi, who was extradited from Dubai to the Netherlands in 2019. Taghi is currently in prison for that he is judged. with 16 other suspects.
Liam Bakker, an Amsterdam resident who lives near the site where de Vries was attacked, described hearing three or four gunshots and then rushing to see what had happened.
“We got out and saw him lying on the floor… bleeding,” said Bakker, still shaken the next day.
He was among those who paid tribute to the impromptu memorial site on a quiet, brick-lined street on Wednesday. A student at the nearby university of Amsterdam called it “horrible”. Another woman, two generations older, laid down a bunch of sunflowers saying, “It’s a shame, it’s terrible. A man on a bicycle said he came simply because he “wanted to do something”.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday expressed “full solidarity” with de Vries’ family and all Dutch journalists, and called for those responsible for the shooting to be brought to justice.
Lawmakers and officials from other European Union countries have also spoken. European Council President Charles Michel called the shooting a “crime against our fundamental value of press freedom”.
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović tweeted: “Everything must be done to bring the perpetrators and masterminds of this horrific crime to justice and to ensure the #Safety of journalists in #Europe.
Aleks Furtula in Amsterdam, Mark Carlson in Brussels and Angela Charlton in Paris have contributed.
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