Almost a year after the murder of Peter R. de Vries in the middle of Amsterdam, the two alleged perpetrators have been on trial since Tuesday. But it probably only hits the henchmen. It has not yet been possible to identify the real masterminds. Two bullets hit the prominent investigative journalist in the head – nine days later de Vries succumbed to his serious injuries.

The bloody deed hit the Netherlands like a shock wave. In a brutal way, many citizens became aware of the stranglehold of organized crime. Prime Minister Mark Rutte spoke of “an attack on free journalism … on the rule of law.”

There’s little doubt: the reporter fell victim to a brutal drug gang. And the two defendants probably only carried out one order. They were caught on the freeway less than an hour after the crime. The Pole Kamil E. (36), residing in Maurik in the south-east of the Netherlands, is said to have driven the getaway car, and the Rotterdam resident Delano G. (22) shot.

“We have strong evidence against the two suspects,” says prosecutor Mara van den Berg. A submachine gun and a converted signal pistol – the murder weapon – were found in the getaway car. There is DNA evidence, camera images, fingerprints, witness statements. “And there is even an eyewitness to the fact.”

Cell phones with encrypted messages were also found in the car. According to the indictment, the two perpetrators communicated in Polish and Dutch with an unknown person. On the day of the attack, he had sent photos of Peter R. de Vries: “You must have this dog.” – “I’ll do it solo,” Delano G. is said to have replied. “I’ll finish this.” After the murder, he sent reports to the unknown.

Both men are said to have been seen at the scene days beforehand, presumably to scout out the situation. It was known that after the TV show was filmed in the studio, the reporter walked to his car in a nearby garage – without bodyguards.

The two suspected perpetrators remain silent as to who the stranger is with whom the accused communicated and whether he was the mastermind. Delano G. says nothing and Kamil E. insists that he has nothing to do with the matter. “I didn’t kill anyone and I didn’t see a gun,” he testified at a preparatory meeting.

He was only supposed to take someone from Rotterdam to Amsterdam and pick them up again, he claimed. But the investigators are convinced that the broad-shouldered Pole can be identified by his eye-catching tattoos on the camera images.

There are many indications that the internationally notorious drug gang of Ridouan Taghi (44), a Dutchman of Moroccan origin, was responsible for the murder. He is currently being tried with 16 others in Amsterdam for multiple murders and attempted murders. The prosecution speaks of a “oiled murder machine”.

“Everyone who unpacks has to sleep” is a well-known saying of Taghi. “Sleep” in jargon means: die. Nabil B. is one who packed and unpacked – he became the key witness against Taghi. For this, B.’s brother was murdered in 2018, a year later his lawyer, and then Peter R. de Vries, who was a confidante of Nabil B.

The reporter was well respected as an uncompromising fighter against crime. But that also put him in the crosshairs. And yet he refused personal protection. “You can’t dodge a bullet with your name on it,” he had said. But why other security measures were not taken is one of the big open questions.

For too long, the Netherlands refused to admit that they are one of the biggest hubs for hard drugs, and therefore a hotbed of organized crime. There is no risk involved in the process: all 88 witnesses remain anonymous. The names of the prosecutors are also not allowed to be mentioned. The fear of further attacks is great.