Two suspects appeared in court on Monday accused of murdering the Netherlands’ best-known crime reporter in a crime that drew condemnation from across Europe.
Delano G., 21, is accused of shooting journalist Peter R. de Vries in July while Polish national Kamil E., 35, allegedly drove the getaway car and carried out surveillance.
A household name in the Netherlands, De Vries, 64, was gunned down on an Amsterdam street as he left a TV studio on July 6. He died in hospital nine days later.
Prosecutors say they suspect he was killed because of his role as advisor to a state witness in a major drug mafia trial.
In the preliminary hearing at an Amsterdam court, Kamil E. proclaimed his innocence. Delano G. told the court he did not wish to speak.
“I didn’t kill anyone, I knew nothing about the murder, I didn’t see a weapon,” Kamil E., who sported a large tattoo on his neck, told the court through a Polish interpreter.
He said two men whom he did not know had given him the car and he was told to drive someone around Amsterdam, without being told why.
– ‘Killed for his work’ –
Public prosecutors said there was an extensive trail of evidence, including the discovery in their car of the weapon allegedly used to murder de Vries.
“We think we have sufficient evidence against the two suspects to prove their involvement in the murder of Peter R. de Vries,” prosecution spokeswoman Justine Asbroek told AFP outside the courtroom.
“We have CCTV footage of the incident, we have found DNA on the murder weapon which was found in the suspects’ vehicle when they were arrested, and gunpowder residue was also found on their hands.”
The two suspects could be seen leaving a Renault Kadjar car before walking to the RTL Boulevard studio on the evening of July 6, prosecutors said.
They then allegedly returned to the car where Delano G. changed clothes and went back to the studio, waiting in a staircase until the journalist walked past and then shooting him.
Police stopped the car on a motorway near The Hague less than an hour later and arrested the two men. Four shell casings found at the scene were believed to have come from a pistol found in the car with Delano G.’s DNA on it.
Prosecutors also said a man matching Kamil E.’s description had been seen carrying out surveillance on a car park used by de Vries two weeks before the killing.
Judges remanded the two men in custody until the next hearing due in December. The trial itself is due to open in spring 2022.
– ‘Narco state’ fears –
De Vries first won fame for reporting on the 1983 kidnapping of Heineken millionaire Freddy Heineken, and hosted his own TV show.
But in recent years he had also had been acting as an advisor and confidant to Nabil B., a witness in the trial of Dutch alleged drugs baron Ridouan Taghi, arrested in Dubai in 2019.
The brother and lawyer of Nabil B. have both been shot since he turned state’s witness.
“We think that (de Vries) was killed because of one of these roles, or at least because of his work,” said Asbroek, adding that there was a “tendency for all those people linked to the (Taghi) trial to lose their lives.”
Fears that the Netherlands is turning into a ‘narco-state’ were fuelled when it emerged recently that even Prime Minister Mark Rutte was believed to have been targeted for assassination or abduction by drug mafia.