Monday, July 11, 2005
Islamist radical on trial for killing film-maker
A radical Islamist accused of the ritualistic murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh will not present any defence to the charge at his trial which opened in Amsterdam today.
Mohammed Bouyeri, a Moroccan Dutch national, was forced to attend at the high-security court but Peter Plasman, his lawyer, said he would offer no evidence throughout the proceedings, expected to last for two days.
Mr Bouyeri, 27, bearded and dressed in a long black shirt and a black-and-white chequered headscarf, was carrying a green leather-bound book embossed with gold Arabic script.
Mr Plasman said: “It is my client’s wish that there will be no defence, not by him but also not on his behalf... He will use his right to remain silent."
When Judge Udo Willem Bentinck asked Mr Plasman whether Bouyeri’s refusal was connected to his beliefs the lawyer would not answer, but Mr Bentinck said "I see your client nodding".
Mr Plasman repeated that Mr Bouyeri “takes complete responsibility for his actions - and that specifically means his actions - on November 2, 2004,” the day Van Gogh was killed.
Prosecutors are expected to present pictures found at Mr Bouyeri’s home which show executions, beheadings, hangings and killings by stoning.
They have said that Mr Bouyeri believed he was doing God’s will and wanted to die a 'martyr'.
Born and raised in Amsterdam, the 27-year-old Mr Bouyeri is a radical Islamist who hoped to die a martyr after killing the controversial filmmaker, distant relative of 19th century painter Vincent van Gogh, police said.
Van Gogh, who was also a well-known columnist noted for his virulent attacks on the multi-cultural society and Islam, was shot and stabbed while he cycled through Amsterdam. Several months before the murder he directed a short film called Submission, critical of abuses against women under Islam.
A letter was left on his body that included quotations from the Koran and threats to several Dutch politicians, including Somali-born lawyer Ayaan Hirsi Ali who wrote the script for Submission.
Mr Bouyeri was arrested as he was attempting to flee the murder scene, according to police.
The assassination caused a surge in ethnic tension in the Netherlands and triggered a wave of attacks on mosques, Islamic schools and churches.
Mr Bouyeri is charged with murdering Van Gogh, attempted murder of several police officers and bystanders and obstructing the work of Hirsi Ali as a member of parliament. If convicted he could be sentenced to a maximum of life in prison. Under Dutch law, life means life.
Security was tight around the courtroom with a sniffer dog checking the building and its surroundings for bombs and all visitors and media thoroughly searched.
The court has set two days for the trial, with the possibility of extending into Wednesday.
Van Gogh’s mother, his ex-wife and two police officers are planning to give special so-called victim statements to the court.
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