The accused killer of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh ignored his victim’s pleas for mercy and calmly shot him at close range before slitting his throat, prosecutors said today at the first public hearing in the murder case.
In the most detailed description yet of the killing, prosecutors gave an account of the morning of November 2, when Van Gogh was shot while cycling to work in a residential Amsterdam neighbourhood where investigators collected 53 eyewitness accounts.
The accused, Mohammed Bouyeri, 26, waived his right to attend the pre-trial hearing in Amsterdam.
Judges ordered Bouyeri to undergo psychological testing and said they would schedule a second pre-trial hearing within 90 days.
“What’s extraordinary is the calmness with which as he did this,” said prosecutor Frits van Straelen. “Several witnesses described how he coolly knelt next to Van Gogh’s body and reloaded his gun.”
The autopsy showed Van Gogh’s throat had been cut nearly to the spinal cord with a kitchen knife.
A note pinned with a knife to Van Gogh’s chest threatened prominent politicians and threatened a holy war against nonbelievers.
A bystander who witnessed the crime yelled at Van Gogh’s killer “You can’t do that!” to which the suspect replied: ”Oh yes I can … now you know what’s coming for you.”
The attacker then walked away, apparently in search of police officers, Van Straelen said. He opened fire at the first police car he found, injuring a police officer.
In total, the gunman fired around 30 times in a shooting spree, Van Straelen said.
Bouyeri’s lawyer, Peter Plasman, said his client ”wants to take responsibility for his actions,” but gave no further explanation. He said Bouyeri agrees with the interpretation of Dutch Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm that Van Gogh’s killing was a declaration of war.
The killing triggered dozens of racially motivated attacks on Islamic schools and mosques and reprisals on Christian churches.
Plasman said his client would refuse to cooperate with the psychological examination and that “if the suspect doesn’t cooperate you get nowhere.”
Van Gogh, a distant relative of the artist Vincent van Gogh, had criticised the treatment of women under Islam in a film. MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote the script for Submission immediately went into hiding only returning to work last week.