AMSTERDAM — Terrorist suspect Samir A. was acquitted on Wednesday of planning terror attacks on government buildings and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
Samir A.’s acquittal follows not guilty rulings in two earlier cases.
Rotterdam Court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to convict the 18-year-old Dutchman of Moroccan origin. A guilty verdict would have been the first time anyone had been convicted of planning terrorist attacks in the Netherlands.
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Despite the acquittal, A. was convicted and sentenced to three months in jail on firearms charges. He was found to be in possession of a cartridge holder, silencer and fake pistol.
A. was arrested in June 2004 on suspicion of an armed robbery, but the court also acquitted him of these charges.
The public prosecutor (OM) had demanded two weeks ago that A. be sentenced to seven years in jail. It also argued that A. should be deprived of voting rights because he tried to disrupt Dutch democracy. This demand was automatically rejected when the court acquitted him.
A. was accused of planning an attack against the Borssele nuclear power plant, the Dutch Parliament in The Hague, the Defence Ministry, Schiphol Airport and the Leidschendam office of national security service AIVD.
Police seized maps of the alleged attack targets during a raid of A.’s house. Various notes had been scribbled onto the maps also. He was also allegedly caught on surveillance footage while scouting out the AIVD headquarters.
The court was told police seized a large amount of radical Islamic material during the raid on A.’s house. This material included advice on how to carry out attacks and fragments from the shooting and beheading of a victim.
A. is also a suspected member of the alleged terror network Hofstadgroep. He will face trial on this charge with in Rotterdam on this charge with 12 others at a later date. Investigations into the actions of the group are continuing.
Mohammed B., the Dutch-Moroccan man arrested for the killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh last year, was also allegedly in contact with the Hofstadgroep.
Meanwhile, the lawyer representing A., Victor Koppe, welcomed Wednesday’s court ruling, saying he was “extraordinary pleased”. He said the court had again demonstrated it had a backbone, referring to previous terror trial acquittals.
Koppe said the ruling “does justice to the law”, claiming that the evidence against his client was too vague to convict him of planning terrorist attacks.
The public prosecutor was disappointed about the ruling, asserting resolutely that A. had been preparing a bomb attack. The OM will now study the court ruling, but it will almost certainly lodge an appeal.