Dutch filmmaker’s killer blames leaders for conflict

AMSTERDAM, Dec 8 (Reuters) – The jailed killer of a Dutch filmmaker, on trial along with 13 others suspected of plotting attacks and belonging to a militant group, blamed world leaders for fuelling international conflict at his trial on Thursday.

Mohammed Bouyeri, who is serving a life sentence for shooting and stabbing filmmaker Theo van Gogh in November a year ago, appeared in court without his lawyer at his own request.

Prosecutors suspect the Dutch-born 27-year-old of Moroccan origin held meetings in his home for a group they say wanted to destabilise society and establish an Islamic state through violence.

Bouyeri was defiant in court, refusing to answer most questions, leaning back in his chair, hands clasped on his head, as he attacked U.S. President George W. Bush, French President Jacques Chirac and Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

Asked by prosecutor Koos Plooy whether he felt religion could justify committing gruesome acts, Bouyeri said:

“How is it possible that one man stirs up so much interest while thousands of millions are dying? Everybody is behaving as though nothing is the matter. Bush, Balkenende, also Chirac and this judge.”

“You are ready to bend over backwards to convict one man … but you are not prepared to do anything to prevent the deaths of thousands who are dying today,” he said loudly.

Dressed in jeans, a patterned shirt and a black skullcap, Bouyeri rejected questions about his beliefs and whether they had changed after the death of his mother in December 2001.

“I am surprised you are asking me that, because you are here to establish whether criminally punishable acts were committed, but this has nothing to do with what I had in my head,” he said.

When asked by Judge Rene Elkerbout whether he had held meetings in his home with the other suspects, Bouyeri said:

“It’s none of your business … I am not going to tell you who came to my house and I am not asking you who visits you.”

He remained silent when asked whether he had held political and religious meetings in his home in which prosecutors said a Syrian man, seen as a spiritual leader, had given lectures.

He also refused to speak when asked whether films showing beheadings had been shown at his home, as stated by the 17-year-old former wife of one of the accused at the start of the trial on Monday.

Van Gogh’s killing on Nov. 2, 2004, stoked tensions with the 1 million Muslims living in the Netherlands, about a third of whom have Moroccan roots, and prompted a wave of tit-for-tat attacks on mosques, religious schools and churches.

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