The trial of two suspects in the murder of Dutch crime reporter Peter Rudolf de Vries, who was gunned down in broad daylight in July, has opened in an Amsterdam court. De Vries died from his injuries nine days after the attack.

On Monday, the two suspects – a Dutchman in his early 20s and a 35-year-old Polish national alleged to be the getaway driver – appeared in the dock for a preliminary court hearing that will summarize the investigation to date and hear any requests from their lawyers.

Both men were arrested hours after allegedly shooting the crime reporter in the head and body after he left a TV studio in Amsterdam on July 6. De Vries succumbed to his injuries nine days later, with his family releasing a statement confirming his death: “Peter fought to the end, but was unable to win the battle.”

Experts speculate that the slaying could have been committed by the same organized crime gang, described by prosecutors as a “well-oiled killing machine,” that de Vries had been trying to get locked up.

The reporter’s killing sent shockwaves through the country and into Europe. King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands brandished the shooting as an attack on journalism, vowing that “journalists must be able to do their important work freely and without being threatened.”

Last month, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was reported by newspaper De Telegraaf to have received extra security after the appearance of “spotters” in his vicinity, which sparked fears of a potential Moroccan mafia kidnapping plot. “Spotters” were used before de Vries’ murder and the 2019 murder of lawyer Derk Wiersum, who was gunned down while working for a client who was a witness against the Moroccan mafia, according to the newspaper.

De Vries had been applauded for his “fearless” investigative work into gangs in the criminal underworld and had previously been placed under special protective measures. He had also investigated more than 500 murder cases over the course of his career. One case that resulted in significant attention was the 1983 kidnapping of Freddy Heineken, on which he later wrote two books.

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