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Fortuyn killer was ‘protecting Dutch Muslims’ • Thursday March 27, 2003

Ananova, Mar. 27, 2003

The man who confessed to killing Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn has told a court he did it to protect the country’s Muslim minority from Fortuyn’s anti-immigration policies.

Volkert van der Graaf, a 33-year-old animal rights activist, was arrested moments after Fortuyn was shot in a car park outside a radio studio last May.

At the start of his trial, he openly answered questions about the motives behind the first political assassination in modern Dutch history.

Although Van der Graaf confessed, under Dutch law prosecutors need to present their case to a panel of judges. There are no jury trials in the Netherlands.

“(The idea) was never concrete until the last moment, the day before the attack,” Van der Graaf said, “I confess to the shooting.” He also confessed to illegal possession of firearms and sending Fortuyn threats before carrying out the attack.

Van der Graaf said he had followed Fortuyn’s career as a columnist for a popular national magazine and had was concerned he was using “the weak parts of society to score points” and gain political power.

Muslims in the Netherlands were being used as “scapegoats,” he said. “I saw it as a danger, but what should you do about it?” he said “I hoped that I could solve it myself.”

He is charged with premeditated murder and faces life in prison if convicted. During several days of hearings, judges will consider his mental state at the time of the shooting and whether he can be held accountable for his actions.

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