July 26, 2005

Dutch court jails Van Gogh killer for life

By Paul Gallagher and Wendel Broere

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch court sentenced the
self-confessed killer of a Dutch filmmaker critical of Islam to
life in jail on Tuesday for a religiously motivated murder
which whipped up racial tension in the Netherlands.

Mohammed Bouyeri, an Amsterdam-born Muslim, was convicted
of killing Theo van Gogh as he cycled to work in Amsterdam on
Nov. 2, 2004. He was found guilty of shooting and stabbing Van
Gogh, slashing his throat and pinning a note to his body with a

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

Judge Udo Willem Bentinck told the court Bouyeri -- a
devout Muslim -- had murdered Van Gogh in a gruesome manner and
shown no remorse. The murder had "terrorist intent," he said.

"The murder of Theo van Gogh provoked a wave of revulsion
and disdain in the Netherlands. Theo van Gogh was mercilessly
slaughtered," the judge told a packed hearing of Amsterdam
District Court.

Bouyeri was also found guilty of the attempted murder of 8
police officers and 2 bystanders, illegal weapon and munitions
possession and threatening Somali-born Dutch politician Ayaan
Hirsi Ali in a note pinned to Van Gogh's body.

Bouyeri -- in court dressed in a gray robe and black and
white headscarf -- killed Van Gogh because he regarded the film
director as an "enemy of Islam," the judge concluded.

Bouyeri, 27, confessed to the murder during his trial
earlier this month, saying he had been motivated by his
religious convictions. The Dutch-Moroccan praised Allah and
carried the Koran in court in an earlier hearing.

Prosecutors said Bouyeri, who waived the right to mount a
defense, was a radical Muslim dedicated to a holy war against
what he regarded as the enemies of Islam and had murdered Van
Gogh to spread terror in the Netherlands.

The 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 Ayaan 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.

Van Gogh's killing revived memories of the murder of
anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn by an animal rights
activist in 2002, which also exposed mounting tension in the
Netherlands over the country's large foreign population.