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Dutch investigative journalist gunned down in the street

© ANP/Belga

Police are investigating the shooting yesterday evening on the street in Amsterdam of Peter R. de Vries, perhaps the country’s most famous investigative journalist.

De Vries was approached in the Lange Leidsedwarsstraat, not far from the famous Leidseplein, by a gunman who fired three or four times before running off. Emergency services were called and de Vries was taken to hospital, where latest reports said he was “fighting for his life,” according to Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema.

Meanwhile the suspected gunman and two others were arrested. One Polish man and one man from Rotterdam have been detained in prison. A third suspect, an 18-year-old from Amsterdam, was released without charge.

When the victim is someone like Peter R. de Vries, all eyes turn towards organised crime. His career, most recently with RTL, has been one unmasking of organised crime figures after another. He has a rather flashy style, always in a black suit with an open white shirt, a head of white hair and a determined on-camera manner.

It may be dramatised, but it certainly is dramatic.

Police at the crime scene in Amsterdam. © ANP/Belga

At any stage of his career this could have been a predictable outcome, but one particular story seems to stand out in this instance.

The so-called Marengo trial concerns a series of attempted murders and liquidations in the Moroccan-Dutch underworld. Prosecutors have a key witness, who has taken de Vries on as his confidant.

Not an enviable position, seeing as how the lawyer for the witness was shot dead on the street in Amsterdam in 2019. The lawyer’s brother has also been murdered some time earlier. De Vries himself said he was on the gang’s death list.

In the investigation so far, aside from tests on the suspects to determine if one of them is the shooter, search warrants have been carried out in Rotterdam, as well as in more remote towns Tiel (where the Polish suspect is resident) and Maurik, roughly halfway between Den Bosch and Amersfoort. Computer drives and ammunition was seized. 

Images from the vicinity of the crime scene will also be gathered and analysed.

Meanwhile, closer to home, Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA) said he was “devastated” by the attempt on de Vries’ life, which showed, he said, the need for more cooperation and hard work to tackle the drugs traffickers.

“What has happened in the Netherlands could happen here tomorrow,” he tweeted.

And David0 Sassoli, president of the European Parliament, also issued a statement.

‘The media is the backbone of democracy. Attacks on journalists are attacks on all of us.”