July 11 (Bloomberg) — Mohammed Bouyeri, the self-confessed murderer of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, declined to testify as prosecutors opened their case against him in Amsterdam today. He faces a maximum penalty of a life imprisonment.
Bouyeri, 27, is on trial in a specially secured courthouse called “the bunker” in Osdorp, a district in the southwest of Amsterdam. The case is scheduled to last, at most, until July 13. The court expects to give its verdict two weeks later.
At the trial’s start, on Jan. 26, Bouyeri’s lawyer Peter Plasman said his client took full responsibility for Van Gogh’s killing, according to a the Web site of the public prosecutor. Bouyeri today refused to be defended and exercised his right to remain silent, prosecution spokesman Robert Meulenbroek said.
Van Gogh’s mother and sisters testified in court today.
Van Gogh was stabbed and shot to death on Nov. 2, 2004, in an Amsterdam park. He had received death threats following the showing of his movie “Submission,” about the treatment of women in Islamic societies. He was 47 at the time of his murder.
The same day, police arrested Bouyeri, who has Dutch and Moroccan passports. Amsterdam District Attorney Frits van Straelen will put in his sentencing request tomorrow.
“Submission,” a 10-minute film, features images of a Muslim woman wearing a transparent veil, which reveals her breasts. Koranic texts describing physical punishments for “disobedient women” are written on parts of her body.
Van Gogh’s earlier movies include Blind Date, which won the Dutch Golden Calf movie award in 1996 for directing, and Cool!, a film released last year, which featured Dutch Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm playing a bank manager.