Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries looks on prior...

Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries looks on prior to attending a live TV show in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on Jan. 31, 2008. A Dutch court is delivering verdicts Wednesday, June 12, 2024 in the trial of nine men suspected of involvement in the 2021 assassination of popular campaigning journalist Peter R. de Vries on a downtown Amsterdam street. Credit: AP/Peter Dejong

AMSTERDAM — A Dutch court on Wednesday convicted three men of murder for their roles in the 2021 shooting of investigative reporter Peter R. de Vries, a brazen attack in downtown Amsterdam that sent a shockwave through the Netherlands.

His assassination appeared to be linked to a string of gangland hits in and around the Dutch capital, although the gang leader convicted of ordering some of them has not been charged in De Vries’ killing.

The shooter, getaway driver and organizer of the attack were convicted of direct involvement in the killing. The shooter and driver were sentenced to 28 years. The man who organized the slaying was sentenced to 26 years and one month.

The three demonstrated “unprecedented ruthlessness and unscrupulousness. Their actions and the recklessness they showed demonstrate that they do not care about human life,” said presiding Judge Gert Oldekamp of Amsterdam District Court.

De Vries was gunned down on July 5, 2021, on a busy Amsterdam street and died nine days later of his injuries, at age 64.

He had been an adviser and confidant for a protected witness in the trial of the alleged leader and other members of a crime gang. The witness’ brother and lawyer were both murdered.

The group’s top gangster, Ridouan Taghi, was convicted of his role in five gangland killings and sentenced to life behind bars in February. Judges called him the “undisputed leader” of a “murder organization.” Taghi has appealed the convictions.

Armed police patrol outside a top security Amsterdam courthouse, Wednesday...

Armed police patrol outside a top security Amsterdam courthouse, Wednesday June 12, 2024, ahead of the verdicts in the trial of nine men suspected of involvement in the assassination three years ago of popular campaigning journalist Peter R. de Vries on a busy Amsterdam street. Credit: AP/Mike Corder

Taghi has not been charged with involvement in the assassination of de Vries and prosecutors have not charged any suspects with ordering de Vries killed.

“Whether Taghi was involved in the murder of Peter de Vries and what intention he may have had is expressly not up for assessment in this criminal case,” Oldekamp said.

De Vries' son, Royce, told national broadcaster NOS that the issue was something for lawyers to discuss.

“The fact is that there is a conviction today and tough punishments imposed. For me, that is the most important now,” he said.

Armed police patrol outside a top security Amsterdam courthouse, Wednesday...

Armed police patrol outside a top security Amsterdam courthouse, Wednesday June 12, 2024, ahead of the verdicts in the trial of nine men suspected of involvement in the assassination three years ago of popular campaigning journalist Peter R. de Vries on a busy Amsterdam street. Credit: AP/Mike Corder

Annemiek van Spanje, a lawyer for de Vries' family, said they were satisfied with the judgment, but that “the bottom line is ... it won't bring back their father.”

A total of nine men were charged in connection with the murder. Three were convicted of complicity and were given sentences ranging from 10 years to 14 years. One man was convicted of drug possession but was cleared of complicity in the murder. He was sentenced to four weeks.

Two were acquitted because they were charged only with involvement in a criminal organization, and the judges said prosecutors did not prove the existence of such an organization.

Prosecution spokesperson Justine Asbroek welcomed the convictions.

“We are happy that this criminal case has come to an end — at least for the time being," she told reporters at the courthouse. "We are happy for the family that there is finally clarity about those involved in the murder.”

The full names of the suspects were not released in line with Dutch privacy regulations.

Prosecutors had sought life sentences for the gunman, getaway driver and organizer of the killing and sentences ranging from three to 21 years for the six other suspects in the case. The sentences were generally shorter than requested because the court said prosecutors did not prove that the suspects were part of a criminal organization or that some had acted with a terrorist motive.

Asbroek said prosecutors would likely appeal that element of the verdicts.

The slaying sparked outrage, grief and anger throughout the Netherlands. Dutch King Willem-Alexander called the shooting of de Vries “an attack on journalism, the cornerstone of our constitutional state and therefore also an attack on the rule of law.”

Oldekamp said the murder “sent a shockwave through the Netherlands.”

Earlier this year, the de Vries family lawyer, van Spanje, lamented the fact that no suspect was on trial for ordering the murder.

“The fact that the person who ordered the killing is not known and is not on trial here naturally hangs like a shadow over this trial,” she told The Associated Press.

The shooter was arrested less than an hour after the attack, along with a Polish man identified only as Kamil E. who was the getaway driver. Prosecutors told judges at Amsterdam District Court that the weapon used to shoot de Vries was found in their car.

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