Police in Amsterdam were out in force yesterday where the funeral was being held for Peter R. de Vries, the investigative journalist gunned down in the street on 6 July.
De Vries, wounded five times, died in hospital from his injuries eight days later. He was 64.
he secular ceremony was held in the Carre theatre, to accommodate some 6,000 guests. However hours before the 11.00 opening, people were lined up in the street in a queue tailing half a kilometre back along the street. Many were ordinary members of the public who had no hope of being admitted, but were there simply to pay their respects.
”Peter R. de Vries was such a special man. He was not only there for the victims, but also stood up for wrongly convicted people,” said one man, who had travelled with his mother from Leerdam an hour away.
“By being here, we all show that we stand behind him. May this never happen again,” he told the Algemeen Dagblad.
Unlike many investigative journalists, who tend to keep a low profile for safety reasons, De Vries was big and bold. His investigations into unsolved cases, miscarriages of justice, corruption and organised crime took him regularly onto TV, in particular the Dutch version of RTL.
It was just after an appearance on RTL Boulevard that he was shot, not far from the studio and close to the famous Leidseplein, familiar to most tourists.
“Some streets are closed. The police are everywhere,” reported Patrick Van Gompel for VTM in Belgium.
“You can see them on the water. Sniffer dogs have also passed by. I counted about thirty police officers. It is well secured on all sides,” he said.
The extra security was not accidental. De Vries’ last case concerned an investigation into the activities of a Moroccan-Dutch gang accused of drugs trafficking and worse in the Rotterdam area.
De Vries had become the personal confidant of a key witness in the case, which placed him in considerable personal danger. The man’s lawyer, Derk Wiersum, has already been murdered, as has the man’s brother.
The witness is in protective custody, but that would never have been an option for Peter R. de Vries. On the facade of the Carre theatre yesterday hung a huge portrait of the man, in black and white, with a quotation from musician and songwriter Eddie Vedder:
“On bended knee is no way to be free.”
The burial took place after the ceremony, with only the family present.