The Netherlands’ King Willem-Alexander on Wednesday condemned the shooting of journalist Peter R. de Vries as an attack on democracy that had shocked him deeply, leading tributes to the country’s best-known crime reporter.
De Vries, the winner of an international Emmy award for his work investigating the disappearance of U.S. teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba in 2005, was shot on an Amsterdam street on Tuesday evening.
He was taken to a hospital, where he was fighting for his life, Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema said.
“This is an attack on journalism, a cornerstone of our rule of law”, King Willem-Alexander told reporters during a state visit to Berlin.
“And as such it is an attack on our constitutional order.”
The Dutch royal house does not generally comment on individual incidents, so the king’s remarks were a sign of how de Vries is a hugely popular figure who has featured on television for decades.
Gun violence is rare in the Netherlands, but killings and violence linked to the drug trade have become a fixture in recent years as underworld figures compete for territory. In 2019, a lawyer in a high-profile drug case was gunned down in front of his Amsterdam home.
ALLEGED SHOOTER IN CUSTODY
Well-wishers laid flowers and lit candles at the scene of the attack, just outside a downtown Amsterdam television studio where De Vries had been giving an interview about a recent case.
Natalee Holloway’s mother Beth, who worked closely with De Vries on the investigation of her daughter’s disappearance, told Dutch broadcaster SBS she was “devastated” by the news of the attack.
“I am trying desperately to get through to his family”, she said. “I am shocked.”
The attack on De Vries also drew outrage throughout Europe.
“This is a crime against journalism and an attack on our values of democracy and rule of law,” European Council President Charles Michel said in a tweet.
“We will relentlessly continue to defend the freedom of the press.”
The president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, said that the media was the backbone of democracy.
“Attacks against journalists are attacks against all of us,” he said.
Police said three suspects had been detained in the hours following the attack, including the possible shooter, but gave no further details.