Dutch court jails Van Gogh killer for life

Amsterdam, Holland - A Dutch court sentenced the self-confessed killer of a Dutch filmmaker critical of Islam to life in jail on Tuesday, calling the murder a terrorist attack which whipped up racial tensions in the Netherlands.

Mohammed Bouyeri, an Amsterdam-born Muslim, was convicted of killing Theo van Gogh as he cycled to work on Nov. 2, 2004.

Van Gogh, a descendant of the brother of the 19th century painter Vincent van Gogh, angered many Muslims by making a film which accused Islam of condoning violence against women.

Judge Udo Willem Bentinck told the court that Bouyeri had shown no remorse for a murder with "terrorist intent" intended to provoke widespread fear and undermine Dutch democracy.

Bouyeri fired seven bullets into Van Gogh's body with a pistol in a busy Amsterdam street in the morning rush hour, slashed his throat and plunged two knives into his chest. He was later arrested after he was wounded in a gun battle with police.

"Theo van Gogh was mercilessly slaughtered," the judge told a packed hearing of Amsterdam District Court, guarded by heavily armed police. "The terrorist attack on Theo van Gogh has prompted great feelings of fear and insecurity in society."

Dressed in a gray robe and black and white headscarf, the 27-year-old Dutch-Moroccan remained impassive as the judgment was read out in court. He was the first person to be convicted under tough new anti-terrorism laws introduced last year.

Bouyeri had wanted to die a martyr and regarded himself as an instrument of Allah, the court was told. He killed Van Gogh because he regarded the filmmaker as an "enemy of Islam."


Bouyeri was also found guilty of the attempted murder of eight police officers and two bystanders, the illegal possession of weapons and munitions and of threatening Somali-born Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali in a note pinned to Van Gogh's body.

Bouyeri was not found by judges to have acted in conjunction with others. Twelve suspected Islamic militants arrested after the Van Gogh murder are facing a separate trial on charges of membership of a terrorist group and planning other attacks. A pre-trial hearing in that case is due in Rotterdam on Wednesday.

Bouyeri confessed to the murder during his trial earlier this month and waived the right to mount a defense, saying he had been motivated by his religious convictions and would do the same again. The Dutch-Moroccan praised Allah and carried the Koran in court in an earlier hearing.

Van Gogh's murder sparked a wave of attacks on mosques, religious schools and churches in a country once renowned for its tolerance, and raised questions about the integration of the almost 1 million Muslims living in the Netherlands.

The five-page note left pinned to Van Gogh's body quoted the Koran and was addressed to Hirsi Ali, who wrote the script for Van Gogh's film "Submission" about violence against women. She went into hiding for weeks after the murder and still lives under heavy guard.