Home Dutch News Fortuyn killer lodges autism complaint

Fortuyn killer lodges autism complaint

Published on 10/12/2003

10 December 2003

AMSTERDAM — The convicted killer of populist politician Pim Fortuyn has submitted a complaint against a psychiatrist who suggested he was suffering from a form of autism, a claim which initially opened up the possibility of a life sentence.

Volkert van der Graaf shot and killed Fortuyn in May 2002 and was sentenced in April 2003 to an 18-year jail term after psychiatrists from the Pieter Baan Centrum (PBC) declared him to be of a sound mind. Both the prosecution and Van der Graaf appealed the ruling.

But during the appeal hearing, claims from Groningen youth and child psychiatrist Menno Oosterhoff that Van der Graaf was suffering from Asperger Syndrome, a mild form of autism, opened up the possibility of compulsory TBS psychiatric treatment.

Such a sentence could effectively mean a life sentence because TBS detention centers can recommend that an inmate — usually a murderer or a sex offender — stay behind bars until cured. If the condition cannot be cured, the detainee can remain locked up indefinitely.

One sex offender Theo H. has been detained under a TSB order for 43 years as a result of repeated offences against children. 

Oosterhoff based his diagnosis of Van der Graaf on media reports about the killer and suggested that the PBC might have overlooked the Asperger possibility when it examined Van der Graaf. But called to give evidence to the appeals hearing, Oosterhoff could not prove his theory and subsequently withdrew the suggestion.

The appeals court sentenced Van der Graaf, a father of one from Harderwijk, to an 18-year jail term in July, making him eligible for parole after serving 12 years behind bars. The killer said he murdered Fortuyn because the anti-immigrant politician represented a threat to vulnerable groups in society.

Van der Graaf has since submitted a complaint with the Medical Disciplinary Board against Oosterhoff. The psychiatrist confirmed the complaint on Radio 1 on Wednesday, but it is not yet known what the complaint is based on.

The Healthcare Inspectorate criticised the child psychiatrist at the time for unprofessional conduct. It said Oosterhoff should not have revealed his diagnosis in the media without first gaining permission from Van der Graaf.

Psychiatrists may only publicly reveal a diagnosis of a patient in a restricted number of situations, such as when asked to do so by a judge.

Fortuyn was in full election stride when he was shot five times in the head, neck and chest in Hilversum nine days before the 15 May 2002 election. His party, the populist LPF, went on to win 26 seats and gain a hold in a coalition government with the Christian Democrat CDA and Liberal VVD.

But constant internal LPF conflicts led to the fall of the government just 87 days after it was installed. New elections were held in January and the LPF did well to win eight seats. It has now settled into a relatively stable existence as opposition party.

 [© Novum Nieuws 2003]

Subject: Dutch news