Slain attorney, father of two, killed next to his wife

Dutch police crime scene tape
Dutch police crime scene tapePhoto: Politie

Criminal law attorney Derk Wiersum was standing next to his wife when he was gunned down near their home on Imstenrade in Amsterdam Zuid on Wednesday morning. The woman was not physically injured in the attack that killed her husband. "There are no further victims", a police spokesperson said to Het Parool. Wiersum is survived by his wife and two school-aged children.

"I am totally shocked by the assassination of my colleague Derk Wiersum. A friendly and knowledgeable lawyer, but above all a husband and father", lawyer Bart Swier said about his colleague's murder

Wiersum, 44, was known as a very involved and sympathetic lawyer, according to Het Parool. He ran a one-man practice on Jacob Obrechstraat, from where he handled a whole range of cases. He defended a social worker from Amsterdam Noord, suspected of sexually abusing children, some with mental disabilities. He also defended a mother who was suspected of involvement in her baby's death. Over the past year, Wiersum focused mainly on serious and organized crime. Most recently he and colleague Bart Stapert represented key witness Nabil B., who linked wanted fugitive Ridouan Taghi to a number of gangland assassinations.

In June last year, Wiersum and Stapert warned that the Public Prosecution Service was paying insufficient attention to guaranteeing the safety of key witness B. and the people around him.

Wiersum also used his knowledge of Dutch criminal law for things far beyond his duties as a lawyer. He was a substitute judge at the Zeeland-West-Brabant court. He was treasurer of the foundation Terdoodveroordeelde, a club that fights against the death penalty. And he worked with nonprofit organization Dutch&Detained, a foundation that offers legal aid to Dutch people imprisoned abroad. 

The 44-year-old lawyer has been facing threats for some time, because of his involvement with key witness Nabil B., but refused extra security, according to Het Parool. However, the police did patrol his area more often than usual and Wiersum was screened off from public view along with B. when they appeared in court.

B.'s family is deeply saddened by Wiersum's murder, but not surprised, a family member of the key witness said to the Telegraaf. "We have warned the police and the Public Prosecution Service from the outset that everyone involved in this process is in danger. An attack on a prosecutor could be a next step", the family member said. Nabil B.'s brother Reduan was murdered just a week after the Public Prosecutor announced it made a key witness deal with B.