AMSTERDAM — The public prosecutor (OM) has claimed that Mohammed B., the suspected killer of Theo van Gogh, played a leading role in the alleged terror network Hofstadgroep.
The claim was made in a preliminary hearing in Rotterdam Court involving 12 alleged members of the group and is an integral part of the prosecutor’s case to prove the Hofstad group is a terror network. Up to now, it has been suggested B. was on the group’s fringe.
The prosecutor demanded on Tuesday that the court remand all 12 suspects in custody for another 90 days until investigations have been rounded off.
The lawyers of three suspects demanded bail for their clients, while nine other lawyers were expected to address the court later in the day.
Despite his request, defence lawyer Victor Koppe expects the court to refuse bail because of the nature of the allegations levelled against the men.
Not all suspects appeared in court on Tuesday, but one of them who did, identified as Z. A., told the judge the Hofstadgroep does not exist.
He admitted being in the house of fellow suspect Jason W. in The Hague, but said W. was helping him find a home.
A. will became a father for the second time shortly and he said he wants to return to his family. He denied discussing anything such as the Hofstadgroep with W..
Meanwhile, prosecutor Koos Plooy said the murder of filmmaker Van Gogh, meetings of radical Muslims in Mohammed B.’s Amsterdam home, and the exchange of material urging people to kill in the name of Islam, is proof the Hofstadgroep exists and is a terrorist network.
He also pointed to Samir A. — an alleged central figure in the network — and allegations he was planning terrorist attacks against government buildings and other key installations.
Rotterdam Court acquitted the 18-year-old man at the start of last month, but the prosecutor is appealing the ruling.
Plooy stressed further that Hofstad suspects Jason W. and Ismail A. did not shun violence at the time of their arrest in The Hague last November. One of the suspects threw a hand grenade at police, injuring several officers.
“Violence is ingrained in the ideology. There is no trace of legal actions, such as setting up a political party,” Plooy said, adding that the 12 suspects were aiming to kill, spark unrest and disrupt society.
The court is expected to rule on Wednesday afternoon on whether to release the suspects from custody. The following hearing is planned for 27 July, but will be another preliminary sitting.
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