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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Peter R. de Vries, a renowned Dutch journalist who fearlessly reported on the violent underworld of the Netherlands and campaigned to breathe new life into cold cases, has died at age 64 after being shot in a brazen attack last week, his family said Thursday.“Peter fought to the end, but was unable to win the battle,” the family said in a statement sent to Dutch media.While the motive for de Vries’ shooting remains unknown, the July 6 attack on an Amsterdam street had the hallmarks of the gangland hits taking place with increasing regularity in the Dutch underworld the journalist covered.Two suspects have been detained. Dutch police said the suspected shooter is a 21-year-old Dutchman, and a 35-year-old Polish man living in the Netherlands is accused of driving the getaway car. They were arrested not long after de Vries was wounded.De Vries rose rapidly from a young cub reporter to become the Netherlands’ best-known journalist. He was a pillar of support for families of slain or missing children, a campaigner against injustice and a thorn in the side of gangsters.“Peter has lived by his conviction: ‘On bended knee is no way to be free,’” the family statement said. “We are unbelievably proud of him and at the same time inconsolable.”De Vries had been fighting for his life in an Amsterdam hospital since the attack. The statement said he died surrounded by loved ones and requested privacy for de Vries’ family and partner “to process his death in peace.” Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.The shooting happened after de Vries made one of his regular appearances on a current affairs television show. He had recently been an adviser and confidant for a witness in the trial of the alleged leader and other members of a crime gang that police described as an “oiled killing machine.”.The suspected gangland leader, Ridouan Taghi, was extradited to the Netherlands from Dubai in 2019. He remains jailed while standing trial along with 16 other suspects.Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte led the tributes to de Vries in the Netherlands.“Peter R. de Vries was always dedicated, tenacious, afraid of nothing and no one. Always seeking the truth and standing up for justice,” Rutte said in a tweet. “And that makes it all the more dramatic that he himself has now become the victim of a great injustice.”Dutch King Willem Alexander last week 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.”The slaying also struck a chord elsewhere in Europe, where murders of reporters are rare. The killings of journalists in Slovakia and Malta in recent years have raised concerns about reporters’ safety in developed, democratic societies.In a tweet, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was “deeply saddened by the news of Peter R. de Vries’ passing. I want to express my condolences to his family and loved ones.”She added: “Investigative journalists are vital to our democracies. We must do everything we can to protect them.”De Vries won an International Emmy in 2008 for a television show he made about the disappearance of U.S. teenager Natalee Holloway while she was on holiday in the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba in 2005.In 2018, while acting as a spokesman for the family of an 11-year-old boy who was abused and killed in 1998, de Vries appealed for tips about the whereabouts of a suspect identified in a DNA probe.“I can’t live with the idea that he won’t be arrested,” de Vries said when appealing for help at a televised press conference. “I won’t rest until it happens.”The suspect was arrested a few weeks later in Spain and convicted last year in the death of the boy, Nicky Verstappen.De Vries’ comment about the suspect in Nicky’s slaying summed up the tenacity that was a cornerstone of a career that saw him report on some of the Netherlands’ most notorious crimes, including the 1983 kidnapping of beer magnate Freddy Heineken.Acting on a tip, de Vries tracked down one of the kidnappers in Paraguay in 1994.He befriended another of the kidnappers, Cor van Hout, who was later gunned down in Amsterdam. Another of the kidnappers, Willem Holleeder, who was van Hout’s brother-in-law, was convicted in 2019 of inciting the killings of van Hout and four other people. Holleeder was sentenced to life imprisonment.De Vries also was known for tenaciously campaigning to find the truth behind the 1994 slaying of a 23-year-old woman, Christel Ambrosius. Two men from the town where she was killed were convicted in 1995 and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, but de Vries refused to believe they were guilty.They were acquitted in 2002, and in 2008, another man was convicted of Ambrosius’ killing.Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus issued a statement calling de Vries “a brave man who lived without compromise. He would not allow himself to be intimidated by criminals.”Grapperhaus said he “tracked down injustice throughout his life. By doing so he made an enormous contribution to our democratic state. He was part of its foundation.”
The Dutch public health institute says that coronavirus infections in the Netherlands skyrocketed by more than 500% over the last weekBy MIKE CORDER Associated PressJuly 13, 2021, 3:35 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTHE HAGUE, Netherlands — Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands skyrocketed by more than 500% over the last week, the country’s public health institute reported Tuesday. The surge follows the scrapping of almost all remaining lockdown restrictions and the reopening of night clubs in late June.The weekly update showing that nearly 52,000 people in the Netherlands tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week came a day after caretaker Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized for the June 26 lockdown relaxation and called it “an error of judgment.”Rutte backtracked Friday and reintroduced some restrictions in an attempt to rein in the soaring infection rate. Bars again have to close at midnight, while discotheques and clubs were shuttered again until at least Aug. 13.The Netherlands, along with other European nations, is facing a rise in infections fueled by the more contagious delta variant just as governments hoped to greatly ease or eliminate remaining pandemic restrictions during the summer holiday season.With infections rising around France, President Emmanuel Macron on Monday cranked up pressure on people to get vaccinated and said special COVID passes would be required to go into restaurants and shopping malls starting next month.The Dutch public health institute said that of the infections that could be traced to their source, 37% happened in a hospitality venue such as a bar or club. Infections among people ages 18-24 surged by 262%, followed by a 191% rise in 25-29 year-olds.Despite the alarming rise in confirmed cases, hospital admissions increased by a modest 11%, or 60 COVID-19 patients, over the week, the institute said. Twelve of the admissions were to intensive care units.More than 46% of the Netherlands’ adult population is fully vaccinated, and more than 77% of the country’s adults have had at least one shot. Health authorities said more than 1.3 million people would receive their first or second doses this week.Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said Monday that the late June loosening of restrictions combined with a lack of social distancing and the delta variant “has had, of course, an accelerating effect. You can unfortunately see that with hindsight.”Other countries in Europe are scrambling to accelerate coronavirus vaccinations in the hope of outpacing the spread of the more infectious delta variant.———Follow all AP stories on the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A United Nations court on Wednesday convicted two former allies of late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic of aiding and abetting crimes committed by Serb paramilitaries in a Bosnian town in 1992.It is the first time that Serbian officials have been convicted by a U.N. court of involvement in crimes in Bosnia.However, the court said there was not sufficient evidence to convict them of similar crimes committed in other towns and villages in Bosnia and Croatia as the former Yugoslavia violently disintegrated in the early 1990s.Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic were convicted of aiding and abetting the crimes of murder, deportation, forcible transfer and persecution in the town of Bosanski Samac, and each was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment. The judgment can be appealed.Stanisic is a former head of Serbia’s State Security Service, and Simatovic was a senior intelligence operative with the service.“The trial chamber is satisfied that the accused provided practical assistance which had a substantial effect on the commission of the crimes of murder, forcible displacement and persecution committed in Bosanski Samac and were aware that their acts assisted in their commission,” Presiding Judge Burton Hall said.Hall said that Serb forces and paramilitaries took over the town in northern Bosnia in April 1992.“Numerous crimes were committed against the non-Serb population … including looting, rape and the destruction of religious buildings and cultural monuments,” Hall said. Local Bosnian Croats and Muslims were forced into detention centers where they were held in inhumane conditions, tortured and killed, he added.Stanisic and Simatovic were originally acquitted in 2013 by judges who said prosecutors had failed to prove important elements of their links to the crimes. Appeals judges quashed the not-guilty verdicts in 2015 and ordered the retrial that took place at the U.N. International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.The verdicts Wednesday are the final U.N. prosecution in The Hague for crimes committed during the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia.The court’s chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, said in a statement that his office would study the judgment “and decide whether there are grounds to appeal.”“As senior officials in the State Security Service of the Republic of Serbia, Stanisic and Simatovic contributed to the commission of crimes by paramilitary forces and other armed groups in furtherance of ethnic cleansing campaigns against non-Serbs,” Brammertz said.Stanisic’s lawyer, Wayne Jordash, said he would appeal.“They found one incident in a municipality, and the evidence of that was weak,” he said. “And to me it looks like a cynical compromise that we have to find some way to convict him to justify putting a man on trial for 18 years.”Prosecutors had alleged that both defendants were part of a “joint criminal enterprise” among top Serbian officials to force non-Serbs out of parts of Croatia and Bosnia.Judges said they were convinced the enterprise existed, and that Stanisic and Simatovic knew about it, but said prosecutors had not proven beyond reasonable doubt that they actually participated.Munira Subasic, leader of a Bosnian survivors’ group called the Mothers of Srebrenica, welcomed the ruling that there was a Serbian plan to drive non-Serbs out of Bosnia.“Serbia is responsible for the war in Bosnia …, there is no way Serbia can find to absolve itself of that,” she said.Earlier this month, appeals judges at the same court confirmed former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic’s convictions for his role in atrocities throughout the Bosnian war, and upheld his life sentence.Natasa Kandic, a prominent Serbian rights activist and the former head of the Humanitarian Law Fund group, described the verdict as “very important” because it is the last Hague trial and because “the accused and sentenced individuals belong to the most important institution in Serbia.”Iva Vukusic, a historian at Utrecht University, said ahead of Wednesday’s hearing that the prosecution of Stanisic and Simatovic, who were originally sent to The Hague to face trial in 2003, has taken too long.“I think this case is really showing us that if international justice wants to be a viable solution, this is not the way to run it,” she said in a telephone interview. “It’s been too long in the making.”Even so, it offered an opportunity to pass the first judgment at an international court on Serbia’s role in the wars.Milosevic was charged in a broader indictment with fomenting crimes in the Balkan wars but he died in his cell in The Hague in 2006 before judges could deliver verdicts.————Associated Press writer Jovana Gec in Belgrade, Serbia, contributed.
The Dutch Defense Ministry says Russian fighter jets repeatedly flew low over a Dutch navy frigate in the Black Sea last week and carried out “mock attacks.”By MIKE CORDER Associated PressJune 29, 2021, 7:29 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTHE HAGUE, Netherlands — Russian warplanes repeatedly flew low over a Dutch navy frigate in the Black Sea last week and carried out “mock attacks,” the Defense Ministry of the Netherlands said Tuesday.The incident involving the Dutch ship Zr. Ms. Evertsen happened last Thursday southeast of Crimea, the ministry said in a statement.It came a day after after Russia said one of its warships in the Black Sea fired warning shots and a warplane dropped bombs to force a British destroyer out of an area near Crimea that Russia claims as its territorial waters. Britain denied that account and insisted its ship wasn’t fired upon.The Evertsen has been patrolling in the Black Sea with HMS Defender, the British ship that was involved in that incident.Defense Minister Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten called the Russian actions “irresponsible.”“Evertsen has every right to sail there,” she said. “There is no justification whatsoever for this kind of aggressive act, which also unnecessarily increases the chance of accidents.”She said the Netherlands would speak to Russia about the incident.The ministry said that the Russian jets, armed with bombs and air-to-surface rockets flew past the frigate between 3:30 p.m and 8:30 p.m. and were followed by “disruptions to the Evertsen’s electronic equipment.”The Russian Defense Ministry responded in a statement later Tuesday, saying that the military scrambled its warplanes “to prevent the violation of the Russian Federation’s territorial waters” after the Evertsen changed course and headed toward the Kerch Strait between the Black Sea and the Azov Sea.The ministry said that after the Su-30 fighter jets and the Su-24 bombers made flyovers “at a safe distance” from the Evertsen, the ship changed course and sailed away.Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, a move not recognized by most countries, gaining access to its long Black Sea coast. Russia has chafed at NATO warships visiting near Crimea as destabilizing. In April, it declared a broader area off Crimea closed to foreign naval ships.In April, Russia imposed restrictions on foreign naval movements near Crimea until November in a move that drew strong complaints from Ukraine and the West. Russia rejected the criticism and noted the restrictions wouldn’t interfere with commercial shipping.Earlier this year, Russia also bolstered its troops near the border with Ukraine and warned Kyiv against using force to reclaim control of the country’s eastern industrial heartland, where a conflict with Russia-backed separatists has killed more than 14,000 people in seven years. Moscow withdrew some of its forces after maneuvers, but Ukrainian officials say many of them remain.———Associated Press writer Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.
Kasper Dolberg scored two goals to give Denmark a 4-0 victory over Wales and a spot in the European Championship quarterfinalsBy MIKE CORDER Associated PressJune 26, 2021, 7:35 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleAMSTERDAM — Still riding a wave of emotion, Denmark won again at the European Championship.And they won a big one at a stadium that means a lot to them.The Danes advanced to the quarterfinals at Euro 2020 by beating Wales 4-0 on Saturday in Amsterdam, getting two goals from Kasper Dolberg exactly two weeks after Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field during the team’s opening match. Eriksen had to be resuscitated with a defibrillator and spent several days in the hospital before returning home last week.Both Eriksen and Dolberg played for Ajax, the team that plays its home matches at the Johan Cruyff Arena. Much of the crowd of 16,000 was cheering on the Danes.“It feels like a home game,” Dolberg said. “This stadium, which is very special to me, it’s fantastic.”Dolberg, who was given his first start of the tournament by Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand, scored a goal in each half. Joakim Maehle scored the third in the 88th minute and Martin Braithwaite added the fourth in injury time.It was the second match in a row that Denmark scored four times, after beating Russia 4-1 to qualify for the round of 16 after losing its first two matches. Denmark is the first nation to score four or more goals in consecutive matches in the history of the European Championship.“We needed the love and support and that’s what gave us wings,” Hjulmand said of the crowd in Amsterdam.After soaking up early pressure by Wales, Dolberg struck.He took a pass from Mikkel Damsgaard in the 27th minute and cut infield from the left before curling a right-foot shot into the far corner. He doubled the lead in the 48th minute when he scored with a low shot after Neco Williams’ attempted clearance went straight to him.Dolberg knows all about about scoring in Amsterdam. He found the net 45 times in 119 matches for Ajax from 2016-19 before signing for French club Nice.“I think we have a star striker in Kasper,” Hjulmand said.Saturday’s strikes brought his tally at the Johan Cruyff Arena to 31, with the other 29 coming for Ajax.“Today when we were walking … to the stadium I felt that it was something very, very special for me,” Dolberg said. “Today everything feels right.”Dolberg became the first Danish player to score at least twice in a match at a major tournament since Nicklas Bendtner against Portugal at Euro 2012.With Wales increasingly ragged, Maehle made it 3-0 with a powerful shot when he had time and space to control the ball and beat Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward. Braithwaite’s goal was initially ruled offside but allowed after a video review.Harry Wilson was sent off in the 90th minute for a foul on Maehle as Wales slumped to its worst loss in a competitive match since being beaten 6-1 by Serbia in September 2012.“We’re all hurting. We didn’t want our supporters to watch us going out like that,” Wales coach Rob Page said, adding he believed there was a foul on Kieffer Moore in the build-up to the second Denmark goal.The Danes will next play either the Netherlands or the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals in Baku on Saturday.Wales had an early chance to take the lead when captain Gareth Bale sent a swerving shot just wide in the 10th minute. He shot wide again two minutes later as he attempted to break an international goal drought that has now reached 15 matches.Wales managed only one shot on target in the entire match. Denmark had eight.“We showed real heart,” said Bale, one of Wales’ key players when the team reached the semifinals at Euro 2016 in France.———More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports
One of Rembrandt van Rijn’s biggest paintings just got a bit biggerBy MIKE CORDER Associated PressJune 23, 2021, 9:01 AM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleAMSTERDAM — One of Rembrandt van Rijn’s biggest paintings just got a bit bigger.A marriage of art and artificial intelligence has enabled Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum to recreate parts of the iconic “Night Watch” painting that were snipped off 70 years after Rembrandt finished it.The printed strips now hang flush to the edges of the 1642 painting in the museum’s Honor Gallery. Their addition restores to the work the off-center focal point that that rebellious Golden Age master Rembrandt originally intended.“It can breathe now,” museum director Taco Dibbits told The Associated Press on Wednesday.The crowded painting’s two main characters, Captain Frans Banninck Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch, are central in the chopped down painting. With the new digital additions — particularly a strip on the left of the painting that features two men and makes clear that a boy is looking over a balustrade — the main figures effectively are shifted to the right.“It really gives the painting a different dynamic,” Dibbits said. “And what it taught us is that Rembrandt never does what you expect.”The museum always knew the original, uncut, painting was bigger, in part thanks to a far smaller copy painted at the same time that is attributed to Gerrit Lundens.Researchers and restorers who have painstakingly pored over the work for nearly two years using a battery of high tech scanners, X-rays and digital photography combined the vast amount of data they generated with the Lundens copy to recreate and print the missing strips.“We made an incredibly detailed photo of the Night Watch and through artificial intelligence or what they call a neural network, we taught the computer what color Rembrandt used in the Night Watch, which colors, what his brush strokes looked like,” Dibbits said.The machine learning also enabled the museum to remove distortions in perspective that are present in the Lundens copy because the artist was sitting at one corner while he painted Rembrandt’s painting.The reason the 1642 group portrait of an Amsterdam civil militia was trimmed is simple: It was moved from the militia’s club house to the town hall and there it didn’t fit on a wall between two doors. A bit of very analog cropping with a pair of scissors ensued and the painting took on the dimensions that have now been known for centuries. The fate of the pieces of canvas that were trimmed off remains a mystery.The digital recreation that will be on show in coming months come as part of research and restoration project called “ Operation Night Watch ” that began just under two years ago, before the global pandemic emptied museums for months.Under relaxations of the Dutch COVID-19 lockdown, the museum can welcome more visitors from this weekend, but still only about half of its normal capacity.During the restoration project, the painting was encased in a specially designed glass room and studied in unprecedented detail from canvas to the final layer of varnish.Among that mound of data, researchers created the most detailed photograph ever made of the painting by combining 528 digital exposures.The 1642 painting last underwent significant restoration more than 40 years ago after it was slashed by a knife-wielding man and is starting to show blanching in parts of the canvas.Dibbits said the new printed additions are not intended to trick visitors into thinking the painting is bigger, but to give them a clear idea of what it was supposed to look like.“Rembrandt would have definitely done it more beautifully, but this comes very close,” he said.
Memphis Depay scored a goal and was involved in two more from Georginio Wijnaldum in the Netherlands’ 3-0 victory over North Macedonia at the European ChampionshipBy MIKE CORDER Associated PressJune 21, 2021, 7:37 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleAMSTERDAM — Memphis Depay scored one, he set up Georginio Wijnaldum for the next two, and the Netherlands made it three out of three.The Dutch team completed the group stage at the European Championship with a 3-0 victory over North Macedonia on Monday, the second team at the tournament after Italy to win all three of its opening matches.Memphis, who signed for Barcelona on Saturday, scored the first goal after a slick counterattack in the 24th minute. He then passed to Wijnaldum for a tap-in goal in the 51st, and seven minutes later goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski saved a shot from Memphis that Wijnaldum put into the roof of the net off the rebound.Free from worrying about completing his move from Lyon to Barcelona, Memphis could concentrate on the match in front of him.“I don’t want to say it was in my head,” Depay said. “But of course it was in the background.”Barcelona came close to signing Wijnaldum, too, but he ultimately chose to move from Liverpool to Paris Saint-Germain.The Netherlands had already won the group before the match and North Macedonia was already eliminated after losing its first two matches at its first major tournament.The match at the Johan Cruyff Arena was the 122nd and last international for North Macedonia captain Goran Pandev. His teammates formed a guard of honor and the crowd gave him a standing ovation as he was substituted in the 69th minute.“I can only say I am happy to work with such a captain for five and a half years and I thank Goran Pandev for all he has done for soccer in Macedonia,” said North Macedonia coach Igor Angelovski , whose contract with the national team expires netx month.North Macedonia created the best chances before Depay’s goal.Ivan Trickovski slid a shot low into the corner of the net in the ninth minute, but the goal was ruled out for offside. And in the 22nd, Aleksandar Trajkovski hit the post with a shot from outside the box after being set up by Pandev.The Dutch took the lead two minutes later. Daley Blind tackled Pandev just outside the Dutch penalty area and the Netherlands new attacking partnership of Donyell Malen and Depay exchanged passes twice in a swift counterattack that ended with Depay shooting low past Dimitrievski. VAR checked Blind’s tackle and ruled that he played the ball fairly.“We all know Donyell’s quality,” Wijnaldum said of the PSV Eindhoven forward. “He is an enormous threat to defenders and that gives me and Memphis more space.”In the second half, Netherlands coach Frank de Boer switched to the traditional Dutch formation of four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards. The change worked almost immediately with Wijnaldum scoring twice in seven minutes.It was a disappointing end for Pandev, who started his international career in 2001 and has scored 38 goals for his country.Before kickoff, Wijnaldum presented the North Macedonian veteran with an orange Netherlands shirt with the number 122 on the back to mark Pandev’s final tally of internationals.The Netherlands now has to wait to see which team it will face in the round of 16 on Sunday in Budapest. As Group C winner, the team will line up against the third-place finisher in either Group D, E or F.———More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports