Broadcaster was worried about shot crime reporter's safety
The team at RTL Boulevard feared for Peter R. de Vries' safety, presenter Marieke Elsinga said on radio program Mattie & Marieke on Wednesday morning. The crime reporter was shot in the head near the RTL Boulevard studio in Amsterdam on Tuesday evening, just minutes after he was on the broadcast with Elsinga.
Late on Tuesday evening, Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema said that De Vries was fighting for his life in hospital. There has been no further updates regarding his condition.
"Ten minutes after the show, then we always talk for a while, we heard the news. Actually, your body and your head switch into a kind of position in which you think: it's not true. But you know it is. And of course it is also something that we feared," Elsinga said.
De Vries was facing threats for some time. He acted as confidant of key witness Nabil B. in the Marengo process around Ridouan Taghi. The crime reporter previously said that he was on Taghi's hit list, though the criminal denied that. Nabil B.'s first lawyer after he turned key witness, Derk Wiersum, was shot dead in front of his Amsterdam home in 2019.
De Vries also assisted the parents of 16-year-old Humeyra, after she was shot dead at her Rotterdam school by her stalker and ex Bekir E. in 2018. E. reportedly threatened De Vries if he went to prison for a long time. An appeals court recently upheld his sentence of 14 years in prison.
There were also reports that criminal kingpin Willem Holleeder talked about an attack on De Vries.
Despite all these threats, De Vries refused security. Having security guards around him made him uncomfortable, his colleague Kees van der Spek said on talk show Humberto.
Elsinga did not want to discuss the precautions and security measures RTL Boulevard took. "That is something we'll leave open, how Peter's security worked. But we did say to each other: 'Peter wasn't scared'. And you hope that was really the case."
Thomas Bruning of the Dutch journalists' union NVJ called the attack on De Vries "all around terrible and unthinkable". "Where ever this came from, it touches our profession in full. This is what we've feared all along."
European Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic said on Twitter that she was shocked by news of the shooting. "My thoughts are with him and his family. Everything should be done to bring perpetrators and masterminds of this horrific crime to justice and ensure safety for journalists in Europe."
Other international journalists and human rights organizations also expressed their shock and support, NOS reports. Reporters Without Borders expressed its solidarity with De Vries, his family, and all Dutch journalists.
The International Press Institute said: "The shooting of another crime reporter in the European Union is a sad day for press freedom."
Lotte Leicht of Human Rights Watch: "I sympathize with him and his family."
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called for a prompt and thorough investigation into the shooting to determine whether he was a target for his work. "Journalists in the EU should be able to investigate crime and corruption without fearing for their safety."