AMSTERDAM — Nine of the 14 men accused of membership of a home-grown Muslim terrorist organisation in the Netherlands received sentences of up to 15 years on Friday afternoon.
The panel of three judges found them guilty and declared Mohammed Bouyeri was the leader and initiator of the Hofstad terrorist group. Bouyeri did not get a sentence as he is already serving life for the murder of film director Theo van Gogh in November 2004.
The public prosecutor (OM) demanded sentences ranging from 15 months to 20 years against 14 Muslims in the case that began in the high-security Amsterdam-Osdorp courthouse on 5 December last year.
The court was told the group – codenamed ‘Hofstadgroep‘ by investigators – was centred on Mohammed Bouyeri.
Prosecutors also named Jason W. and Ismail A. as key members of the alleged terrorist group. The court sentenced them to 15 and 13 years respectively.
They were involved in a 10-hour siege at a home in The Hague after five members of a police arrest team were wounded by a hand grenade. Prosecutors had sought 20-year sentences for both.
Although the aim was to kill the police officers, the court found that the throwing of the had grenade was not carried out as a terrorist act.
W.’s brother Jermaine was acquitted of hindering the work of Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a member of parliament. Hirsi Ali collaborated on the film ‘Submission’ with Van Gogh shortly before his murder.
The prosecution asked the court to free Jermaine W. as the case against him was very weak. A document sketching out a plan to kill Hirsi Ali was found at his place of work. Handwriting experts failed to find evidence Jermaine was the author. Jason and Jermaine W. are converts to Islam.
Nourridine El F. was jailed for 5 years. He was in possession of a loaded machine pistol when he was arrested in Amsterdam on 22 June 2005. Prosecutors have sought a 10-year term in his case.
Most of the other defendants were arrested shortly after Bouyeri killed Van Gogh and five were released during the trial as they had served the equivalent of any sentence they might have received. The judges declared five of the 14 were not guilty.
The 14 accused men denied they met together to plot acts of terrorists. They claimed they gathered to discuss Islam.
The reading of the verdicts began on Friday morning and continued into the early afternoon. It is likely the court’s decisions will be appealed. The prosecution will appeal if any sentences imposed are thought to be on the light side and the accused men will appeal their convictions.