Man accused of Van Gogh killing refuses to recognise Dutch court

Mohammed Bouyeri, who was born in Amsterdam to Moroccan parents, faces life in jail if convicted of the murder of the film-maker Theo van Gogh, who was shot six times as he cycled to work in Amsterdam, and had his throat cut.

Mr van Gogh, a descendant of the 19th-century painter, was a prominent critic of Islamic fundamentalism and his 10-minute film Submission portrayed abuse of women in Muslim communities. The killer left a five-page note, fixed to the corpse with a knife, threatening one of Mr Van Gogh's collaborators, the Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was forced into hiding.

The attack sent shock waves through Dutch society, provoking an outpouring of grief and straining the country's reputation for tolerance. In the aftermath of the murder in November last year there were attacks on mosques and other Muslim targets.

Yesterday, in a high-security court, Mr Bouyeri confirmed his identity before his lawyer, Peter Plasman, said his client did not recognise the court's authority and would not mount a defence. Mr Plasman added: "My client wants no defence by him, nor on his behalf, and that's a very thoroughly considered decision. This is probably the last thing I'll be saying at this trial."

Mr Bouyeri, in a flowing tan robe and a black and white checked headscarf, listened carefully to the proceedings, stroking his beard, but avoiding eye contact with the victim's mother and sister. Prompted repeatedly by judges to address the court, the accused replied only: "I have nothing to add."

On the witness stand, Mr van Gogh's sister Josien said: "The brutal murder left a gaping hole in our family, a hole that will never be filled. I hope that [Bouyeri] gets the heaviest possible punishment. But in November, we were already given a life sentence."

The victim's mother, Anneke, said the "impact this event had will stay in the hearts and minds of people for a long time".

Mr Bouyeri faces a total of six charges, including murder and attempted murder of two passers-by who were hit by bullets.

He is also accused of firing at police officers at the attack scene.

The murder has also raised questions about intelligence failings because the Dutch security services admitted that they had kept Mr Bouyeri under surveillance since 2002. Last week, in an interview with the Trouw newspaper, Josien van Gogh, said of the security service, the AIVD: "If they had been more alert, he might still be alive."

Twelve men accused of belonging of belonging, like Mr Bouyeri, to a radical Islamic group codenamed the Hofstad Network, are awaiting trial on terrorism charges.

More than 50 terrorism suspects have been arrested in the Netherlands since the 9/11 attacks although most of those brought to trial have been acquitted. Mr Bouyeri has spent several months under psychiatric observation and has refused to co-operate with prosecutors.

The prosecutor, Frits van Straelen, told a pre-trial hearing that he would present forensic evidence including clothes, a bag, the murder weapon and ammunition. Mr van Straelen also intends to present pictures found at Mr Bouyeri's home which show executions, beheadings, hangings, throat-cuttings, amputations and deaths by stoning.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence