A Dutch defense lawyer in a major gangland drugs case on Wednesday was shot dead outside his Amsterdam home, raising fresh fears that the Netherlands is turning into a “narco-state.”
Meanwhile, a second person was shot and killed in a separate drive-by attack elsewhere in the Dutch capital in the evening, in what police believed was an unrelated incident.
Lawyer Derk Wiersum, a 44-year-old father of two, was gunned down in the street shortly after leaving his house.
Police are hunting a hoodie-wearing assailant who fled on foot.
Wiersum was the lawyer for a state witness named Nabil B in a huge case against two Moroccan-born men dubbed the most wanted criminals in the Netherlands.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the killing in broad daylight in the capital was “incredibly disturbing” and that police were “on top” of the situation.
“This is very alarming news. The police and the public prosecutor are investigating,” Rutte told reporters.
The two suspects, Ridouan Taghi and Said Razzouki, are considered the most wanted criminals in the nation, which has issued international arrest warrants for them for murder and drug trafficking.
The lawyer’s murder came a year after Nabil B’s own brother was shot dead, raising questions about why Wiersum was not provided with better security.
One of Wiersum’s two children was at home at the time of the shooting, De Telegraaf reported.
Police covered his body with a white sheet while forensics teams investigated the site.
“This is unprecedented,” Peter de Vries, one of the Netherlands’ best-known crime reporters, told BNR news radio.
Amsterdam has long been known for its tolerant attitude toward marijuana, but a report commissioned by the city council earlier this month said that it now has a major problem with drugs.
The report, The Other Side of Amsterdam, said that “drug-related organized crime — the ‘underworld’ — exerts a significant influence on our city.”
One of the main Dutch police unions said the shooting showed that the situation in the Netherlands is getting out of control.
“This is a confirmation that we live in a narco-state,” Dutch Police Association chairman Jan Struijs said. “It is an attack on the rule of law.”
The union last year issued a similar warning, saying that the government and politicians underestimated the scale of crime, corruption, threats and money laundering in the nation.
Meanwhile, a man died of his wounds after gunmen on a scooter fired shots at his vehicle on Wednesday evening, police said.
Police said they were looking for two suspects wearing black and riding on a black three-wheeled scooter.
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