Report criticizes Dutch protection system after 3 murders

THE HAGUE – A critical report on the protection of three murder victims, including a famous Dutch journalist, who was gunned down in central Amsterdam, said on Wednesday that security services in a “fragmented” protection system did not always react to tips about potential threats.

The conclusions pointed to flaws in a police and prosecutor’s network designed to protect people facing threats ranging from stalkers to possible attacks by criminals and terrorists.

The report comes after an 18-month government-commissioned investigation by the Dutch Safety Board into the killings of crime reporter Peter R. de Vries, lawyer Derk Wiersum and the brother of a key witness in the trial of an alleged Dutch crime gang.

De Vries, who was shot dead on a street in Amsterdam on July 21, 2021, and died nine days later acted as the Witness’s confidential advisor. It was Wiersum, the witness’s attorney shot down on September 18, 2019 in front of his home in Amsterdam. The witness’ brother, identified only as Reduan, was shot dead on March 29, 2018.

The witness played a key role in the prosecution of Ridouan Taghi, who is accused by prosecutors of multiple murders in the violent Dutch criminal underworld. Judges in the trial of Taghi and several alleged accomplices are expected to render verdicts later this year.

The report said that “command over the surveillance and protection of those threatened was fragmented across national and regional organizations” and the protection service “did not receive all the information about the threat that was available for the investigation.”

It added that “signals” of possible threats from the victims “were not considered concrete threat information and therefore did not fit into the usual system”.

Both Wiersum and De Vries were kept under police surveillance at their homes. De Vries “was unwilling to share his schedule to organize surveillance of his arrival and departure. He also did not take advantage of the opportunity to personally report high-risk moments,” the report reads.

The Witness’s brother “insisted on protecting his family members. When the attack on his life took place, no special security measures had been put in place for him,” she added.

Responding to the report, Justice Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius said the government had made investments to upgrade the security apparatus in recent years.

“The heightened threat, particularly from organized crime, has resulted in a significant increase in the number of people and objects under intensive surveillance and security for long periods – sometimes even many years,” she said in a statement .

Yeşilgöz-Zegerius said that “the focus is now more on the person to be protected and tailor-made security measures are being developed.”

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. Report criticizes Dutch protection system after 3 murders

Sarah Y. Kim

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