THE HAGUE –
A trial of the suspected gunman and the getaway driver involved in last year’s killing of celebrity Dutch crime reporter Peter R. De Vries opened on Tuesday and the two men could face life imprisonment if convicted.
De Vries was gunned down last July on a busy Amsterdam street. The killing prompted a nationwide outpouring of grief and anger and raised concerns about the ability of the criminal underworld to eliminate a prominent public figure who was considered a threat.
De Vries, 64, was a popular TV personality, well-known for his programs in which he often worked with victims’ families and tirelessly pursued unsolved cases. He had received threats in the past, but refused security.
Prosecutors outlining their case on Tuesday said the 22-year-old Dutchman and a 36-year-old Polish national faced charges of murder and illegal possession of firearms.
The pair were arrested within hours of the shooting on a Dutch highway in the alleged getaway vehicle. Police said the weapon allegedly used to kill De Vries was found in the car.
The Dutch suspect, Delano Geerman, told judges he did not want to comment on the accusations. The second suspect, identified as Kamil Egiert, told the court he was not responsible for the murder.
“My role in everything was only that of driver, I knew nothing about the murder and I did not murder anybody,” he told judges.
The case opening on Tuesday deals only with the hit men who carried out the killing while an investigation into who ordered it is continuing, prosecutors said.
(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg. Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Gareth Jones)