Amsterdam/ Vienna. July 15, 2021
by Edward Steen, AEJ Secretary-General
Just over a week after being shot in broad daylight as he emerged from an Amsterdam TV studio, the celebrated Dutch investigative reporter Peter R. de Vries, 64, died of his wounds today. “Peter fought to the end, but was unable to win the battle,” said a statement from his family. “He was surrounded by the people who love him”.
He leaves behind a widow, two children, and a nation devastated by the loss of the popular author, investigator, and broadcaster who began his career as a 20-year-old on De Telegraf, the main Dutch daily. With a TV programme which has run for 17 years, several books, and hundreds of investigations, he was hugely admired not just for his courage but for his compassion for the families of murder and kidnap victims whose stories he investigated – and also for immigrants denied their rights.
De Vries became world-famous when Sir Anthony Hopkins starred in a 2015 film about one of his most famous cases, kidnapping Freddy Heineken .De Vries had covered the abduction of the beer magnate as a young reporter in 1983.
AEJ President Saia Tsouasidou said the murder of De Vries, one of five European journalists killed in the last few months, was proof of just how dangerous what she called “real reporting” had become. “The two suspects in the case are apparently connected to a powerful drug gang which Peter investigated and whose trial was about to begin,” she said. “How can the courts work effectively if reporters are not protected effectively?” However, De Vries always refused protection.
The case has thrown into sharp relief the growing power of international drug gangs, whose spread many critics see as a disastrous long-term effect of Holland’s liberal but incoherent drugs policy.
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