Lawyer slams 'wrong' photo of Van Gogh suspect

1st December 2004, Comments 0 comments

1 December 2004 , AMSTERDAM — The lawyer representing the suspected killer of Theo van Gogh has sharply criticised the landmark publication of a photo of his client, claiming it was not a good likeness to how he looked on the day of his arrest.

1 December 2004

AMSTERDAM — The lawyer representing the suspected killer of Theo van Gogh has sharply criticised the landmark publication of a photo of his client, claiming it was not a good likeness to how he looked on the day of his arrest.

Speaking on television programme Nova on Tuesday night, lawyer Peter Plasman said the photo of his client, 26-year-old Dutch-Moroccan Mohammed B., should have showed him with eye glasses and a cap.

Plasman said B. always wears glasses because he has poor vision and would have been wearing them at the time of his arrest. But Dutch justice officials used a photo showing him without them, prompting Plasman to question why the photo was released. B. was also wearing a blue cap on the day of the murder.

The lawyer previously tried in vain in Amsterdam Court on Monday to prevent the broadcast of the photo, claiming that his client's civil rights were being violated.

An Amsterdam public prosecutor spokeswoman has defended the photo, asserting that it was a good impression of how B. looked when he was arrested. "The photo is right, it is Mohammed B.," Saskia de Klerk said.

Police officers and witnesses claim that B. was not wearing glasses at the time of his arrest. De Klerk also said the prosecutor wanted to present a photo to the public resembling B. on the day of the murder as much as possible.

De Klerk said it is possible that a pair of glasses were found at the time of the arrest, but that the photo is clear and that people could imagine how B. would look with glasses.

She also said police have received some 50 tips since the Monday night broadcast of crime stopper show Opsporing Verzocht, indicating the photo was adequate.

The photo was taken the day after B. was arrested and its publication on public television was the first time that a crime suspect in the Netherlands had been identified on television by an undoctored photo.

Usually the eyes of a suspect are covered over by a black rectangle and the names of suspects are usually withheld from public knowledge. In contrast, crime victims are frequently identified in the Netherlands.

Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner was closely involved in the decision allowing the publication of the photo on Opsporing Verzocht. The decision was swayed by the uniqueness of the crime, the impact it imparted on the public and the police's need for further information to complete inquiries.

Police hope the use of the photo on the crime stopper programme will glean new information from the public about B.'s movements in the days leading up to the 2 November murder of filmmaker Van Gogh in Amsterdam. They also hope to prove B.'s alleged links to Islamic militants.

Dutch news services subsequently published the photo illegally in newspapers and on websites after the broadcast of Opsporing Verzocht.

Only crime detection services have permission to use the photo and police have warned legal action could be taken against organisations found to be in breach of regulations. But at this stage, no legal action is expected.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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