Expatica news

Landmark unmasking of Van Gogh suspect

29 November 2004

AMSTERDAM — A photograph of the man accused of killing Theo van Gogh will be broadcast on Dutch television on Monday night.

The landmark decision to broadcast the undoctored photograph of a suspect for the first time was made at the highest echelons of the Dutch prosecutor’s office (OM). Facial features of suspects are usually obscured to protect privacy and their last names are also protected from publication.

The Dutch lawyer’s association (Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten) has raised concerns about the decision, claiming that the publication of the photo represents a violation of privacy because suspect Mohammed B. has not been convicted of Van Gogh’s murder.

“A suspect is innocent until proven otherwise,” association president Jeroen Brouwer told Radio 1 on Monday. He added that it is up to the lawyer representing the 26-year-old B., a Dutch-Moroccan, to lodge an objection to the broadcast.

Peter Plasman, the lawyer representing B., failed in a legal bid in Amsterdam Court on Monday to prevent the broadcast.

Mohammed B.’s surname has already been published by foreign news organisations.

Police still have several unanswered questions about the 2 November murder of Van Gogh and it is hoped that more information will be gleaned via the crime stoppers show Opsporing Verzocht on Monday night.

Police will ask the public to provide more information about B.’s actions and movements shortly before Van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death on an Amsterdam street.

Van Gogh’s short film “Submission” that highlighted domestic violence against women in Islamic communities had been broadcast at the end of August.

Opsporing Verzocht is famous for helping to solve crimes by encouraging members of the public to provide vital information to assist police inquiries.

B. has been identified in photos with a black line concealing his eyes. Amsterdam police say the publication of his photo without the black strip will be the first time a suspect has been identified by picture on television.

Nevertheless, Rotterdam-based daily newspaper Algemeen Dagblad (AD) was the first media organisation to fully identify B. by placing a photo in its pages on Monday ahead of the broadcast of Opsporing Verzocht.

Newspaper De Telegraaf said the AD publication was the first time that a photo has been published of a suspect whose identity is known and who has already been detained.

The AD can be purchased in newsagents and Opsporing Verzocht can be seen from 7.30pm onwards on Monday on Nederland 1.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news