AMSTERDAM: Two men suspected in the shooting of a celebrated Dutch crime reporter have a court hearing scheduled Friday, while the journalist is still fighting for his life in an Amsterdam hospital.
Peter R. de Vries was shot in the head while walking to his car after a Tuesday night television appearance. The attack on de Vries, known for courageous reporting on the Dutch underworld, raised concerns around Europe about journalists’ safety and media freedom.
His condition has remained “unchanged” since the shooting, according to a statement from his family. A ceremony in de Vries' honor is planned for Friday afternoon at Amsterdam’s Westerkerk church, which is welcoming visitors to lights candles and to observe a moment of silence.
Dutch police said the the suspected shooter is a 21-year-old Dutchman, and a 35-year-old Polish man living in the Netherlands is accused of driving the getaway car. They were arrested not long after de Vries was wounded. The prosecution service has asked a judge overseeing Friday's hearing to keep them in custody for another 14 days while the investigation continues.
De Vries reported on the country’s most infamous crimes, from the 1983 kidnapping of a Heineken heir to his investigation into the 2005 murder of U.S. teenager Natalee Holloway while she was on holiday in the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba.
Most recently, he had been serving as an adviser and confidant to a witness in a major trial of alleged drug kingpin Ridouan Taghi. Taghi and 16 others are on trial for a series of murders, including the 2016 killing of a crime blogger who had reported on Taghi’s suspected criminal activities.
According to Dutch daily newspaper de Telegraaf, the 21-year-old suspect is the cousin of a member of Taghi’s organization who is serving a 13-year prison term for orchestrating a series of assassination attempts against rival gangs.
Taghi’s lawyer said her client was not involved in the journalist's shooting.
“There has been a flood of reports in the media about who is responsible for this terrible event. However, my client Ridouan Taghi has been referenced without any objective substantiation,” lawyer Inez Weski said in a statement Tuesday.
Two people linked to the witness de Vries was advising were killed in recent years: the witness' lawyer and his brother.