Van Gogh murder suspect in court

The alleged killer of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh has made his first appearance in court.

Mohammed Bouyeri, 27, faces charges of murder, terrorism, possession of an illegal firearm and impeding democracy.

Mr Van Gogh was killed after his film about the treatment of women in Islamic society was shown on television.

Mr Bouyeri was seized by the police shortly after the killing. He could be sentenced to life if found guilty.

Described by prosecutors as an Islamic extremist, Mr Bouyeri demanded “a more nuanced and professional” attitude from his accusers.

But he would not say anything else about his case despite prompting from judges.

His lawyer has previously said his client took full responsibility for his actions.

This was Mr Bouyeri’s first appearance in court. He was not present at the first preliminary hearing in January.

Warning the Dutch

At the January hearing, the Dutch court heard graphic detail of the killing of Van Gogh in an Amsterdam street last November.

A prosecutor alleged that Mohammed Bouyeri had calmly shot Mr Van Gogh as he cycled to work and then cut his throat.

The killer then pinned a letter to Mr Van Gogh’s chest with a knife. The letter threatened the film’s scriptwriter, Somali-born Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Prosecutors say Mr Bouyeri intended to terrify Dutch society.

“In a letter to his family he said he had chosen to do his duty to Allah and to give his soul for paradise,” prosecutor Frits van Straelen said. “[He] wanted to become a martyr.”

Prosecutors allege Mr Bouyeri may have had help in planning the killing. Investigations are continuing into 12 other suspected Islamists arrested after the Van Gogh killing. A thirteenth man was recently acquitted.

There has been heightened ethnic and religious tension in the Netherlands since the killing.

Mosques in several Dutch cities have been the targets of vandalism and failed arson attempts.

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Apr. 14, 2005

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday April 14, 2005.
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