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Verdict due in Dutch crime reporter's killing


FILE - A photo and floral tributes mark the spot where journalist Peter R. de Vries was shot in Amsterdam, Netherlands, July 8, 2021.
FILE - A photo and floral tributes mark the spot where journalist Peter R. de Vries was shot in Amsterdam, Netherlands, July 8, 2021.

A Dutch court will on Wednesday hand down a long-awaited verdict over the 2021 assassination of high-profile crime journalist Peter R. de Vries, a killing that shocked the country.

De Vries was gunned down in broad daylight on a busy Amsterdam street in July 2021, sparking an outpouring of grief and spotlighting the country's drug gang underworld.

Authorities believe gunmen targeted De Vries, 64, due to his role as advisor to a key witness in the case of drug kingpin Ridouan Taghi.

Police arrested two suspects, identified only as Dutchman Delano G. and Kamil E. from Poland, shortly after the shooting. Prosecutors have called for a life sentence.

Prosecutors believe Delano G. pulled the trigger and Kamil E. drove the getaway car and carried out surveillance prior to the shooting.

Seven men suspected of organizing and facilitating the killing have been added to the trial.

FILE - Police officers look on as they stand guard to secure the area where Dutch celebrity crime reporter Peter R. de Vries was reportedly shot and seriously injured, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, July 6, 2021.
FILE - Police officers look on as they stand guard to secure the area where Dutch celebrity crime reporter Peter R. de Vries was reportedly shot and seriously injured, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, July 6, 2021.

All nine suspects either denied the charges or invoked their right to silence. Hearings have taken place in an extra high security "bunker" at the court in Amsterdam.

A video showing De Vries seriously injured circulated after the attack. Partly because of this, prosecutors charged the suspects with "murder with terrorist intent."

Thousands of mourners filed past his coffin in Amsterdam following his death, paying respect to a journalist described as a "national hero."

'Narco-state'

De Vries first shot to prominence as an intrepid crime reporter for the daily newspaper De Telegraaf -- writing a best-selling book about the 1980s kidnapping of beer millionaire Freddy Heineken.

FILE - Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries looks on prior to attending a live TV show in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Jan. 31, 2008.
FILE - Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries looks on prior to attending a live TV show in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Jan. 31, 2008.

The book was later turned into a 2015 movie "Kidnapping Freddy Heineken", starring Anthony Hopkins in the title role.

The celebrity journalist then moved into television, where he ran his own crime program called "Peter R. de Vries, Crime Reporter."

De Vries won international renown in 2008 after winning an Emmy Award for his coverage of the disappearance of US citizen Natalee Holloway on the Caribbean island of Aruba.

From 2020, he was an advisor and confidant of Nabil B., the main prosecution witness in the case against Taghi, described as the country's most wanted criminal.

De Vries revealed in 2019 that authorities had informed him he was on a hit-list drawn up by Taghi, who in February received a life sentence over a series of murders committed by his gang.

Nabil B.'s brother Reduan was killed in 2018, and his lawyer Derk Wiersum was shot dead in 2019.

Together with the assassination of De Vries, the three killings together sparked warnings that the country was becoming a "narco-state."

The threat touched the top levels of Dutch society.

Crown Princess Amalia, the daughter of King Willem-Alexander, was forced to move to Spain for her studies due to fears of an attack from an organized crime group.

Both the royal and Prime Minister Mark Rutte were mentioned in messages by organized crime groups, raising fears of plans to kidnap or attack them.

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