Peter R. de Vries, a renowned Dutch journalist who fearlessly reported on the violent underworld of the Netherlands and campaigned to breathe new life into cold cases, has died at age 64 after being shot in a brazen attack last week, his family said Thursday.
“Peter fought to the end, but was unable to win the battle,” the family said in a statement sent to Dutch media.
While the motive for De Vries’ shooting remains unknown, the July 6 attack on an Amsterdam street had the hallmarks of the gangland hits taking place with increasing regularity in the Dutch underworld the journalist covered.
Two suspects have been detained. Dutch police said 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.
De Vries rose rapidly from a young cub reporter to become the Netherlands’ best-known journalist. He was a pillar of support for families of slain or missing children, a campaigner against injustice and a thorn in the side of gangsters.
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“Peter has lived by his conviction: ‘On bended knee is no way to be free,'” the family statement said. “We are unbelievably proud of him and at the same time inconsolable.”
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De Vries had been fighting for his life in an Amsterdam hospital since the attack. The statement said he died surrounded by loved ones and requested privacy for De Vries’ family and partner “to process his death in peace.” Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.
De Vries had played a role in the trial of a crime gang
The shooting happened after De Vries made one of his regular appearances on a current affairs television show. He had recently been an adviser and confidant for a witness in the trial of the alleged leader and other members of a crime gang that police described as an “oiled killing machine.”
The suspected gangland leader, Ridouan Taghi, was extradited to the Netherlands from Dubai in 2019. He remains jailed while standing trial along with 16 other suspects.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte led the tributes to De Vries in the Netherlands.
“Peter R. de Vries was always dedicated, tenacious, afraid of nothing and no one. Always seeking the truth and standing up for justice,” Rutte said in a tweet. “And that makes it all the more dramatic that he himself has now become the victim of a great injustice.”