Killer of Dutch far-right politician could get parole

2nd October 2013, Comments 0 comments

The man who killed flamboyant far-right Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn more than a decade ago should be freed on early parole, a justice advisory board said on Wednesday.

Animal rights activist Volkert van der Graaf, 44, is serving an 18-year sentence for the May 2002 murder of the outspoken Fortuyn, an act that shattered the liberal Netherlands' self-image as a unified and secure society.

The Criminal Law Application Commission "believes it is in (Van der Graaf's) interest to be granted probation at this stage of his detention," it said in a statement on its website.

Eligible for parole next year after serving two thirds of his sentence, Van der Graaf asked the State to rule on his request to push forward his release date.

Two previous requests for early parole were rejected by Van der Graaf's prison governor.

The independent commission which advises the Dutch state on criminal legal matters, said controlled early parole in which freedom is "gradually expanded towards the end date" is an excellent way to re-integrate and prepare Van der Graaf for a return to society.

Officials have warned however that Van der Graaf's early release could reopen old wounds, given the widespread public anger that followed Fortuyn's murder in a television studio parking lot on May 6, 2002.

"The impact on Dutch society remains huge," Dutch officials opposing Van der Graaf's release told the commission.

"It will cause social upheaval," the unnamed officials said, adding that Van der Graaf's life may be in danger.

Van der Graaf shot the openly gay and hugely popular Fortuyn, 54, at close range days ahead of elections in which the Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) party was expected to make major gains on the back of an anti-immigration ticket.

Widely seen as the forerunner of today's Freedom Party (PVV) of controversial right-wing politician Geert Wilders, Fortuyn called Islam a "backward culture" and called for Dutch borders to be closed to immigration.

Dutch Deputy Justice Minister Fred Teeven said Wednesday he would make a decision by next Monday to decide whether to grant Van der Graaf early release.

Teeven has in the past opposed Van der Graaf's requests, with his liberal coalition party, the VVD, as well as Wilders' Freedom Party saying they opposed the move.

© 2013 AFP

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