Mohammed B. breaks silence

13th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

13 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — The suspected Islamic militant accused of murdering of filmmaker Theo van Gogh broke his silence during a preliminary hearing in the high-security Amsterdam-Osdorp courthouse on Wednesday.

13 April 2005

AMSTERDAM — The suspected Islamic militant accused of murdering of filmmaker Theo van Gogh broke his silence during a preliminary hearing in the high-security Amsterdam-Osdorp courthouse on Wednesday.

Mohammed B. told Amsterdam Court he wanted to correct a false claim that public prosecutor Frits van Straelen had made in a preliminary hearing at the end of January.

The public prosecutor's office (OM) claims B.'s brother wanted to smuggle a document out of the penitentiary hospital in Scheveningen, but B. rejected this claim. "It is more nuanced," he said, without shedding further light on the incident.

The 27-year-old Dutch-Moroccan also urged the prosecutor to be "more nuanced and professional" in future, but refused to reveal anything about the killing of Van Gogh.

The court asked if B. wanted to say anything more — such as in relation to his psychiatric examination in the Pieter Baan Centre (PBC) — but B. said he had nothing further to add. "That was my story. That was it, point," he said.

Prosecutor Van Straelen suggested on Wednesday that several people were aware that B. was planning to kill Van Gogh. He underpinned his claims by eluding to bugged telephone calls, but admitted conclusive evidence has not yet been uncovered.

Van Straelen referred to investigations conducted by the security service AIVD into two alleged members of the suspected terror network Hofstadgroep, Jason W. and Ismaël A., both of whom were arrested last November in tense stand-off in The Hague.

In the previous pre-trial hearing on 26 January, the prosecutor said members of the Hofstadgroep — of whom 12 suspects have been arrested — regularly met B. at his house in Amsterdam-West. The night prior to Van Gogh's murder, B. also allegedly met with suspected members of the Hofstadgroep.

The investigation into the role B. played in the murder of Van Gogh and the ensuing shoot-out with police has been completed, the prosecutor said on Wednesday. But authorities are still investigating whether other people had prior knowledge of the murder.

Justice authorities tried to question B. again on 16 February, but the suspect refused to make a statement. Despite an intense interrogation, B. acted like no one else was in the room and maintained his silence.

B. has also refused to co-operate with the psychiatric examination in the PBC. He doesn't speak to anyone, the prosecutor said.

Sporting a long beard and wearing a black skullcap, B. arrived at the court on Wednesday on crutches; a consequence of being shot in the police shoot-out after Van Gogh was stabbed and shot in Amsterdam last November. He appeared relaxed at the start of the hearing.

B. indicated via a statement that defence lawyer Peter Plasman presented to the pre-trial in hearing in January that he wants to take responsibility for his actions, apparently a veiled confession.

And after the end of Wednesday's preliminary hearing, Plasman said he expects B. will provide a more detailed statement when the trial starts. It is scheduled to begin on 11 July.

B. is accused of murdering Van Gogh, the attempted murder of police officers, threatening MP Ayaan Hirsi Al and hindering the work of a politician. He faces life in jail.

Hirsi Ali collaborated on the film 'Submission' with Van Gogh shortly before his death. The film was critical of domestic abuse in the Islamic faith and is considered to have been a prime factor behind Van Gogh's death.

Van Gogh's sisters and parents attended Wednesday's hearing.

Columnist and friend Theodor Holman said he was disappointed that B. did not reveal the motives behind the killing. He hopes B. will provide more information during the trial, but was pleased to have seen who "the murderer" of his friend was.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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