Praise and scorn for Hofstad convictions

10th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

10 March 2006, AMSTERDAM — Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende indicated on Friday he was happy the police and the prosecution service (OM) had secured convictions against nine men in the Hofstad terrorist trial.

10 March 2006

AMSTERDAM — Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende indicated on Friday he was happy the police and the prosecution service (OM) had secured convictions against nine men in the Hofstad terrorist trial.

Although the sentences ranging from a few months to 15 years were lower than the OM sought, Interior Minister Johan Remkes said the authorities had no plans to appeal for higher jail terms. "We have not come away empty-handed," a spokesperson for the prosecution service said.

Lawyers for the convicted men said they would appeal against the convictions and sentences.

The highest sentences, 15 and 13 years, were imposed respectively on Jason W. and Ismail A. who were involved in a 14-hour siege at a home in The Hague in November 2004. The siege began after five police officers were injured by a hand grenade as they tried to arrest the two men. There were more grenades in the building.

The panel of three judges convicted W. and A. and the seven others of membership of a organisation with terrorist aims of inciting hatred and threatening people. However, the court ruled the grenade was thrown with intent to kill but not with the aim to further the organisation's terrorist objectives.

The court also found the Hofstad group was a terrorist organisation because the members planned to incite hatred and threaten but not terrorist attacks.

MP Geert Wilders described this reasoning as a "judgement by a Banana republic - very pitiful and unacceptable."

He accused the judges of being "irresolute" and not understanding the nature of Muslim extremism.

Wilders is a vocal critic of Islam and had to go into hiding for several months after the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh due to threats to his own life.

Mohammed Bouyeri, 28, who is serving a life sentence for murdering Van Gogh, was declared the leader of the Hofstad group by the court on Friday. Under Dutch law he could not get an additional sentence.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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