Suspect in custody tied to Amsterdam defense attorney's murder

Police at Derk Wiersum shooting scene
Amsterdam Police cordoned off the crime scene where attorney Derk Wiersum was fatally shot. Sept. 18, 2019Image: Politie Amsterdam

Police in Amsterdam say they have a suspect in custody in connection with the murder of criminal defense attorney Derk Wiersum. The male suspect was apprehended on Tuesday evening at a home, authorities said in a statement.

Authorities released no details about the suspect's age, nationality, or his place of residence. Shortly after the incident, police said they were looking for a man between the ages of 16 and 20 years, wearing a hoodie, and dressed in black clothing.

The home where the suspect was arrested was searched right after he was taken into custody. Police did not disclose what, if anything, was found at the scene. He was not yet specifically identified as the shooter, but he was "suspected of involvement in this murder," police said.

Wiersum, married father of two, was shot dead in front of the family's Amsterdam Zuid home on September 18. His wife was standing with him at the time of the incident and was not physically harmed.

The gunman fled the scene on foot after the 7:30 a.m. shooting. He is thought to have then escaped the scene in a white van.

Police on Thursday said the van used was a white Opel Combo using counterfeit license plate "VN-927-V". Authorities appealed to the public for information about the van on Monday. Police did not state when or where the van was found, but they did say that anyone who saw the van in Amsterdam, Almere, or the surrounding area should contact them immediately.

Wiersum was the attorney for Nabil B., an informant and key witness for the prosecution in a series of homicides and an attempted murder connected to organized crime figure Ridouan Taghi. Taghi was still at large as of Thursday, thought to be hiding in Dubai or elsewhere in the Persian Gulf. He is suspected of involvement in nine different murder cases.

The attorney, and co-council Bart Stapert, complained that officials were not taking their client's security seriously following a series of blunders that publicly confirmed B. was an informant. Even B.'s own family said they were saddened, but not terribly surprised by the murder.

"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", one family member said.

The fatal shooting of Derk Wiersum sent shockwaves through the Netherlands legal system. Judges, prosecutors, and dozens of others connected to the Taghi criminal case were given a security detail following the murder.

The slain defense attorney had also represented a mother suspected of killing her baby, an Amsterdam Noord social worker alleged to have sexually abused several children including some with mental disabilities, and others in organized crime cases.

Derk Wiersum was 44 years old.

Van used in Amsterdam shooting of Derk Wiersum
The van police say was used in the September fatal shooting of Amsterdam defense attorney Derk Wiersum. Oct. 3, 2019Photo: Politie