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It was with dismay that the Amsterdam Law School learned of the violent death of criminal lawyer Derk Wiersum. A reaction from professor of the Legal Profession Diana de Wolff.

Last Wednesday: a dark day that began with devastating, shocking and incomprehensible news. The lawyer defending a crown witness in a huge criminal case has been shot dead outside his home. Initial thought: what country was that in? No, it happened in the Netherlands. A lawyer who was simply doing his work has been murdered. 

Thursday: the flag is flying at half-mast at our office, as requested by the Dutch Bar Association. We hear that several colleagues have been moved to a safe place or are under protection. These lawyers, too, are simply doing their work: defending their clients, defending the law, defending a just society. 

From now on: the attack will have tremendous impact. On individual lawyers, who are restricted in doing what they trained for and what they love to do: standing up for others. On the unrestricted access to legal aid for people who consider cooperating with investigations into serious crime. On the pursuit of the truth in criminal cases.

Whatever your opinion of the crown witness scheme, this attack was an attack on our rule of law. 

Derk Wiersum was regarded as a passionate and highly competent criminal lawyer. He defended suspects’ rights, stood up for the underdog. The attack on Wiersum, LL.M., was an attack on a respected criminal lawyer, a father and a husband, on the constitutional state and on the free, independent and fearless legal profession. 

Diana de Wolff, professor of the Legal Profession