Dutch crime reporter Peter de Vries, who has won several awards for his work in exposing the criminal underworld, is fighting for his life after being shot in the head on an Amsterdam Street. Police have detained three suspects on Tuesday night including the possible shooter but have declined to provide further details.
De Vries has been subjected to threats from the criminal underworld in the past in connection with several cases and police suspect Tuesday's shooting may have been a result of a possible threat from some gangster or drug kingpin. Amsterdam's Parool newspaper published an image of the scene with several people gathered around a person lying on the ground.
De Vries, 64, was shot at least five times, including once in the head, according to local media. Moments later, police arrived at the scene and cordoned off the area of the shooting near the downtown Leidseplein square as officers collected video footage, witness statements and forensic evidence.
"He was seriously wounded and is fighting for his life," Amsterdam's mayor, Femke Halsema, said in a televised news conference. "He is a national hero to us all. A rare, courageous journalist who tirelessly sought justice."
He was taken to a nearby hospital in "serious condition", police said, calling for eyewitnesses to come forward.
Dutch broadcaster RTL said De Vries had just left its studio and was on the street when the shooting took place. DeVries was taking part in a live broadcast shortly before the attack. Three suspects including the possible shooter have been arrested but police have not shared much detail, with the investigation still on.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the attack "shocking and incomprehensible. It was an attack on a courageous journalist and also an attack on the free press that is so critical to our democracy". "We are praying that he will survive," he said.
De Vries is a celebrity in the Netherlands, both as a frequent commentator on television crime programs and an expert crime reporter with sources in both law enforcement and the underworld. He has time and again received threats from the criminal underworld in connection with several cases.
Tuesday's shooting, many believe, was a result of that.
De Vries shot to stardom after for his investigative work following the 1983 kidnapping of beer magnate Freddy Heineken. He became a prominent name in the United States for his investigative reporting on the disappearance of teenager Natalee Holloway in 2006.
He won an international Emmy Award in the current affairs category in 2008 for investigating the disappearance of Holloway.
However, these things made him a target of many gangsters and drug cartels. In 2013, Willem Holleeder, the Heineken kidnapper, was convicted of making threats against de Vries. Holleeder is currently serving a life sentence for his involvement in five murders.
De Vries had also faced death threats from alleged murderer and drug trafficker Ridouan Taghi. However, in 2019, Taghi, who is currently on trial for murder and drug trafficking, made a public statement denying reports that he had threatened to have de Vries killed.