Islamic school arsonists might escape jail terms
18 May 2005, AMSTERDAM — The public prosecutor will not demand a jail term against the five teenagers accused of setting fire to an Islamic primary school in Uden and attempted arson at a city mosque. The prosecutor told Den Bosch court on Wednesday that community work orders and suspended jail terms will instead be demanded against the five suspects.
18 May 2005
AMSTERDAM — The public prosecutor will not demand a jail term against the five teenagers accused of setting fire to an Islamic primary school in Uden and attempted arson at a city mosque.
The prosecutor told Den Bosch court on Wednesday that community work orders and suspended jail terms will instead be demanded against the five suspects.
The sentencing plea was being made at a hearing closed to the public on Wednesday. Earlier, the media has been given exceptional, though only partial, access to the proceedings against the suspects, aged 14 to 17 years old.
The Bedir Islamic primary school in Uden was burnt to the ground in a blaze caused by a Molotov cocktail on 9 November last year. An attempt had been made to burn a mosque in Uden three days earlier.
The attacks were preceded by the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam by a suspected Islamic militant on 2 November. The killing sparked a series of retaliatory attacks against Muslims.
Police arrested a group of VMBO vocational high school students on 20 November and the suspects allegedly confessed to the crimes.
The prosecutor said both incidents were "racist attacks", referring to the graffiti left behind at the primary school. He also said both attacks were premeditated.
Van Gogh's murder was discussed at length at school and outside of school, partly via internet chat sessions prior to the arson attacks.
The suspects also said on Wednesday they had been threatened by and had fought with Turkish and Moroccan youths in the past.
Initially planning to throw a pig's head through a mosque window, two suspects, aged 16 and 17, threw a Molotov cocktail into the mosque on 6 November. It failed to set fire to the building.
The prosecutor told the court two people were in the mosque at the time of the attack, but the suspects denied they knew this.
Three days later, the three other youths — including the 14-year-old suspect — set fire to the primary school.
They claim to have been shocked by the extent of the damage, denying they intended to destroy the entire school. Some 111 students attend the Bedir primary school. The suspects apologised for their actions on Wednesday.
However, a representative of the school's parents council said a lot of students are still very frightened and fear that their school will be targeted again.
These fears are not without cause, considering the same school was targeted in another arson attack in March.
The hearing was continuing behind closed doors on Wednesday and the court will then decide what sentences to impose on the defendants.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news