Amsterdam assassination appears linked to long-running gang feud

Pizzeria owner is killed in broad daylight in the latest attack in the Dutch capital

Emergency services attend the scene of a fatal shooting incident in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on Wednesday. Photograph: Niels Wenstedt/EPA

A broad-daylight killing in Amsterdam on Wednesday, which now appears connected to a long-running Serbian gangster feud, has become the third unsolved gangland assassination in the Dutch capital in just more than a month.

The 49-year-old Serbian owner of a pizzeria in west Amsterdam was shot dead, and a second Serb, Jovan Djurovic, known to have international criminal connections, was seriously injured when a gunman opened fire just outside the restaurant in a busy local shopping area.

Police are now working on the possibility that Djurovic – and not the pizzeria owner, Goran Savic, whom eyewitnesses said Djurovic apparently tried to protect – may have been the intended target of the hit.

Djurovic is one of three brothers. The other two died in separate incidents in 2013. One, Nikola Djurovic, died in a shooting. The other, Luka, the right-hand man of a Montenegrin gang boss currently serving 18 years in a Spanish jail, subsequently died in a mysterious car crash within months.


Jovan Djurovic, however, is known to have survived several previous attempts on his life.

What worries Dutch detectives is that two other men from the former Yugoslavia have been shot dead in Amsterdam already this year. Djurovic would have been the third, though that distinction has now been claimed by his restaurateur friend, Savic.

Killings of this kind are generally linked to drugs in the Netherlands, though that is not yet established in this case. People trafficking and the illegal arms trade there also have strong Balkan links, frequently involving highly territorial Albanian and Russian gangs as well.

Jan Struijs, outspoken head of police union NPB, said simply that in the Netherlands "organised crime has got totally out of control".

Lawyer targeted

The most notorious killing in years was just last month, when lawyer and part-time judge Derk Wiersum (44) was shot dead outside his home in Amsterdam, while saying goodbye to his wife as he left for work.

The Wiersum killing is believed to be linked to the court case in which the lawyer was defending one of 16 men charged in connection with five drugs-related murders and one attempted murder. The chief suspect is 41-year-old Ridouan Taghi, the country’s most wanted criminal, currently on the run.

Within 24 hours of the Wiersum killing, another shooting occurred in Amsterdam, one which normally would have grabbed the headlines but this time was barely noticed.

Former Antwerp FC soccer player Kelvin Maynard (32) – who also played for Burton Albion in England – was hunted down in a 2km chase by two men on a motorbike.

Maynard, said to have been “known to the police”, finally lost control of his car, which hit a fire station wall. He was shot dead as he lay stunned.

Peter Cluskey

Peter Cluskey

Peter Cluskey is a journalist and broadcaster based in The Hague, where he covers Dutch news and politics plus the work of organisations such as the International Criminal Court