Prosecutors called at the opening of the trial for both accused to be jailed for life – Copyright POOL/AFP PHIL NOBLE
The children of a leading Dutch crime reporter confronted his alleged killers in court on Tuesday accusing the two men of gunning down their “hero” father from behind.
Journalist Peter R. de Vries, 64, was shot in the head outside an Amsterdam television studio in July 2021 in a crime that prosecutors say was linked to his role in the trial of a Dutch drugs mafia kingpin.
Dutch man Delano G., 22, is accused of fatally shooting de Vries, while Polish national Kamil E., 36, allegedly drove their getaway car and carried out surveillance prior to the shooting.
Prosecutors demanded at Tuesday’s opening of the trial at Amsterdam District Court that both men be jailed for life for murder.
“I am looking at you, like you didn’t dare to look at my father when you shot him down from behind,” the journalist’s daughter Kelly told Delano G..
The suspect looked back across the room without showing any emotion.
“Why did you shoot him? For money? Because you didn’t agree with him?” she asked both men.
The murder of de Vries in broad daylight stunned the Netherlands, where he was a household name with his own TV show, and sparked outrage across Europe.
A verdict is due on July 14. The pair face possible life sentences for murder, as well as for illegal possession of guns and ammunition.
– ‘A hero’ –
Kelly de Vries told the accused “I hate you” but added she could “bring myself to treat you with humanity”.
“Your children will realise what their fathers have done — at least I can be proud of mine. People will say that he was a hero,” she said.
The journalist’s daughter had earlier asked to leave the room, as the court watched video of the murder.
Images from various vantage points in the city, including a nearby cafe, appeared to show Delano G. and Kamil E. walking around the area shortly before de Vries was shot.
The court then saw images at a distance of de Vries crossing the street, a figure running behind him and then the moment when he was shot and fell to the ground.
De Vries died in hospital nine days later.
“I invoke my right to silence,” Delano G. answered when judge Gert Oldekamp asked him directly if he had shot de Vries.
“I did not murder this man,” Kamil E. told the judges in Polish.
– ‘Life sentences’ –
The court also heard about a message sent shortly after the killing from a phone on which Delano G’s DNA was found, which said: “He is dead, KK, dead.”
“The bullet went right through his head. Everything spurted. Everybody screamed,” the transcript read.
Police stopped a car on a motorway near The Hague less than an hour after the shooting and arrested the pair. Four shell casings found at the scene allegedly came from a pistol with Delano G.’s DNA on it that was found in the car.
Gunshot residue was found on both men’s hands, the court heard.
Prosecutors showed a detailed animated graphic of De Vries’ and the suspects’ movements on the day — and how Kamil E. previously tailed him in the run-up to the assassination.
There was but one conclusion, that Delano G. and Kamil E. “knew exactly who to murder”, said one of the prosecutors, who for security reasons can not be identified.
De Vries was “murdered in broad daylight, in the heart of Amsterdam, within view of the terraces,” filled with patrons, he said.
“They have forfeited their right to liberty and therefore we demand life sentences,” for both suspects.
De Vries first won fame for reporting on the 1983 kidnapping of Heineken millionaire Freddy Heineken.
Prosecutors say they suspect de Vries was killed because of his role as adviser to a state witness, Nabil B., in the trial of the Netherlands’ most wanted man, alleged drugs baron Ridouan Taghi, who was arrested in Dubai in 2019.
The brother and lawyer of Nabil B. have both been shot since he turned state’s witness.
Fears that the Netherlands is turning into a ‘narco-state’ were fuelled when it emerged that even Prime Minister Mark Rutte was believed to have been targeted for assassination or abduction by drug mafia.