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Dutch Political Assassin Escapes Life Sentence

17.04.2003
 

Volkert van der Graaf shot a number of times last year on the then high rising Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn
A three judges strong panel sentenced yesterday Volkert van der Graaf, the murderer of popular Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn to 18 years in prison. A sentence, which is equal with the normal punishment for a single murder in the Netherlands. Family, politicians of the LPF, the party of Fortuyn and fans of the late politicians reacted disappointed.

Volkert van der Graaf shot a number of times last year on the then high rising Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn. Fortuyn stormed the polls before the general Dutch elections with a program that played into the feelings of discontent with groups in Dutch society. Fortuyn had strong opinions on immigration and integration of refugees in the Netherlands. Also he focused on a more open political system. The views of Fortuyn were labeled as extreme rightwing, comparing him with other rightwing politicians in Europe. Van der Graaf found the program of Fortuyn a real threat for a number of groups in Dutch society and decided to act on it an murdered Fortuyn on 6 May.

Fourteen days ago the long awaited trial started against the first political murderer in a long time. The democratic system is strongly rooted by the Dutch, seeking corporation and dialog, instead of polarization. The murder shocked the Netherlands and the call for a high punishment was great. Every day demonstrators appeared at the courthouse vocally and with pamphlets calling for the death penalty. The Netherlands doesn't have this ultimate form of revenge. The longest punishment possible is a life sentence and the public prosecutor asked the judges to impose this sentence.

Most legal experts claimed that a life sentence was not an good sentence, because, as a rule, a murder is penalized with jail sentences between 12 and 20 years, Life sentences are reserved for people who committed multiple murders. The judges also found this to be the case and, to the disappointment of the family and friend of Fortuyn, judged Van der Graaf guilty and sentenced him to 18 years in prison. The public prosecutor has said he will ask for an appeal and outside the demonstrators renewed the call for the death penalty.

Photo: Slain politician Pim Fortuyn, left, and his accused killer, Volkert van der Graaf

Richard Wagenaar
The Netherlands
Special to PRAVDA.Ru

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