By PETER DEJONG
AMSTERDAM (AP) — A phone found in the suspected getaway car of two men charged in a Dutch crime reporter’s brazen slaying last year contained text messages that prosecutors say link them to the killing, which triggered a national outpouring of grief and government pledges to crack down on Amsterdam’s increasingly violent drugs underworld.
Prosecutors suspect a 21-year-old Dutchman identified only as Delano G. of shooting Peter R. de Vries at close range in a downtown Amsterdam street on July 6 last year. The campaigning reporter and television personality died nine days later of his injuries. If convicted, the suspect faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
A judge in Tuesday’s hearing directly asked G. if he shot De Vries, to which the suspect replied: “I make use of my right to silence,” according to footage recorded by Dutch broadcaster NOS. The other suspect said: “I did not kill that man.”
Prosecutors say the two suspects were arrested less than an hour after the shooting in a getaway car on a highway near The Hague with the weapon used to shoot De Vries in the car.
Also in the car was a mobile phone, that prosecutors say contained messages alluding to the killing. One of the judges in the case read out the messages during Tuesday’s hearing.
One exchange included two pictures of De Vries and the message: “You have to get this dog.”
Later, a message from the phone found in the car read: “He’s dead … everyone screaming. He didn’t move anymore.”
G. has refused to answer questions about his alleged involvement in the shooting. The alleged getaway driver, a Polish man, Kamil E., on Tuesday denied involvement in the shooting.
Prosecutors have not publicly identified a suspect they believe gave the order to kill De Vries, who was 64.
As part of the trial, De Vries’ son and daughter made victim impact statements to the Amsterdam District Court.
“I’m convinced that if these suspects had asked my father for help that evening, he would have given it,” De Vries’ son Royce told the court, NOS reported. “Instead, they pulled the trigger.”
Lawyers for the suspects are scheduled to speak at a separate hearing next week, Judges are scheduled to deliver verdicts July 14.
De Vries made his name as a crime journalist who reported on and wrote a bestselling book about the 1983 kidnapping of beer magnate Freddy Heineken. Later in his career he campaigned tirelessly to resolve cold cases. Before his shooting, De Vries had been an adviser and confidant for a witness in the trial of the alleged leader and other members of a crime gang that police described as an “oiled killing machine.”
The suspected gangland leader, Ridouan Taghi, was extradited to the Netherlands from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2019 and is currently standing trial.
Associated Press writer Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, contributed.
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