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Van Gogh killer begins presenting own defense in new terrorism case - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) – The convicted killer of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh addressed an Amsterdam court again Thursday, presenting his own defense to separate terrorism charges as one of 13 men who allegedly planned attacks on Dutch politicians.

Mohammed Bouyeri, 27, is already serving a life sentence for Van Gogh’s Nov. 2, 2004, murder, which Bouyeri said he carried out alone because he believed Van Gogh insulted Islam in his film criticizing the treatment of Muslim women.

In the new trial, in which he is charged as a member of a criminal group that planned terrorist attacks, Bouyeri insisted on presenting his own defense and was granted three hours to speak.

He faces no additional punishment since his previous sentence has no parole. But prosecutors felt his inclusion in the group would increase the chances other alleged members would be convicted.

Bouyeri, who was born in Amsterdam of Moroccan parents, began his allotted time with a prayer in Arabic. Wearing a red-checkered head scarf, he said he felt “honored” by prosecutors’ accusation that his philosophy was similar to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s, then embarked on a rambling discussion of Islamic history and law.

He said that good non-Muslims should be treated fairly because “Allah loves the just” but that leaders of non-Muslims who are dishonest should be killed.

“Kill them, and Allah will help you and guide your hand,” Bouyeri said. “There’s no room there for doubt or interpretation there.” He said that killing one innocent Muslim is morally equivalent to killing all Muslims and then remarked in English, “that’s for your administration, Uncle Bush,” in an apparent reference to the U.S. President.

He quoted the Quran frequently, at times in Arabic, but also cited wide ranging-sources such as science philosopher Thomas Kuhn and terrorism expert Jessica Stern. In their two-day closing statement last week, prosecutors said Bouyeri and other members of group, known as the Hofstad Network, followed a cult-like vision of Islam that was bound to end in violent attacks.

Evidence entered against the 13 men included wiretaps, Internet chat room messages, weapons and blueprints seized in raids, al-Qaeda propaganda, and farewell testaments written by some members apparently in preparation for suicide attacks.

Most attended meetings at Bouyeri’s Amsterdam apartment. Other defense lawyers who have yet to present their full arguments have so far said the suspects were just friends who shared common religious beliefs and should not be convicted because of their association with other group members.

Prosecutors have sought 20-year sentences for two suspects, Jason Walters and Ismail Aknikh, who resisted arrest in a a daylong standoff with police in The Hague in a sweep after Van Gogh’s murder.

Walters allegedly threw a hand grenade that wounded three officers before he was taken into custody on Nov. 10, 2004.

All the suspects were charged under a new law that makes “participation in a terrorist group” a crime. The law aims to empower police to stop terrorists before they act. Prosecutors asked for a 10-year sentence for Nouredine el Fahtni, accused of being a ringleader. Investigators say he planned to attack Dutch politicians, along with Walters and Aknikh. El Fahtni was caught with a loaded machine gun after a chase in June 2005, prosecutors said.

Sentences of between 1 1/2 and four years were sought for other suspects accused of being followers and supporters.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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