AMSTERDAM: Police have detained another suspect in relation to the killing of Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh. They have also arrested two other men who are accused of calling for the beheading of an anti-immigration politician.
The 23-year-old arrested in connection with van Gogh’s death is the eighth suspect belonging to a gang of young Muslim radicals who, Dutch prosecutors say, conspired to murder the film-maker over a movie critical of Islam.
In the other arrests, two men – aged 20 and 23 – were detained in connection with a video promising “paradise” in return for the beheading of politician Geert Wilders, prosecutors said in a statement.
Mr Wilders, a right-wing conservative who has been outspoken in his opposition to immigration to The Netherlands, recently split from his mainstream party because it favoured a bid by predominantly Muslim Turkey to join the European Union.
Prosecutors said the suspects used an internet group website to place a video with the text: “The punishment is beheading and the reward for doing it is paradise.”
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Van Gogh, a distant relative of the famous painter, was found shot, stabbed and with his throat slit last Tuesday in Amsterdam.
His alleged killer, identified by Dutch media as Mohammed B, was arrested minutes later.
A five-page letter, pinned to van Gogh’s corpse with a knife, also threatened death to Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who worked with van Gogh on a movie which criticised the treatment of women under Islam.
That letter was signed “Saifu Deen al-Muwahhied”, the same signature used in an open letter threatening Mr Wilders that was written in February but was recently reposted on a mainstream website for Dutch-Moroccans. The letter has since been removed from the site.
The phrase means “the sword of belief of those that affirm the unity of God”.
Mr Wilders and Mr Hirsi Ali are under police protection.
After van Gogh’s killing, Mr Wilders said he would form his own anti-immigration party.
Dutch pollster Maurice de Hond said Mr Wilders’ popularity has since soared. He estimated Mr Wilders would win 12 per cent of the vote if elections were held in The Netherlands now.
Six other suspects accused of conspiring to murder van Gogh were arrested shortly after the murder. They have been charged with membership of a terrorist organisation and conspiring to murder.
All the suspects are of Moroccan or Algerian descent, although several hold Dutch passports, including the alleged killer. Judges ordered two suspects released for lack of evidence, but Mohammed B and the others remain in custody.
Meanwhile, members of The Netherlands’ Moroccan community held a rally in The Hague to promote peace and reconciliation.