Sun, Oct 13, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Netherlands rejects parole for far-right leader’s killer

OLD WOUNDS:Van der Graaf, 44, is eligible for parole early next year after serving two-thirds of his 18-year sentence for killing Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002

AFP, THE HAGUE, The Netherlands

The man who killed flamboyant far-right Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn more than a decade ago will not be released on early parole, Dutch Deputy Justice Minister Fred Teeven said on Friday.

Volkert Van der Graaf, 44, is serving an 18-year sentence for the 2002 murder of the outspoken and openly gay Fortuyn, an act that shattered the liberal Netherlands’ image of itself as a unified and secure society.

“According to advice ... granting Van der G. parole would bring a risk of social unrest, danger to himself and his family and the danger of the public order being seriously disturbed,” Teeven said in a statement in The Hague.

Teeven consulted police, the public prosecutor’s office and the Dutch anti-terror and safety body, as well as Fortuyn’s family before making his decision.

Last week a Dutch justice advisory board said Van der Graaf should be granted a “controlled” early release, as the best way to reintegrate and prepare him for an eventual return to society.

Van der Graaf is eligible for parole early next year after serving two-thirds of his sentence and has asked the state to rule on his request to push forward his release date.

Officials had warned that Van der Graaf’s early release could reopen old wounds, given the widespread public anger that followed Fortuyn’s assassination in a television station car park on May 6, 2002.

Van der Graaf’s risk “is enhanced by the fact that he is known across the country and therefore could not appear in public without being recognized,” Teeven added.

“Should he get parole, it would come with heavy security arrangements and serious limitations on his movements,” the Duth Ministry of Justice said in a statement.

Teeven made a number of concessions to Van der Graaf, saying his “freedom in detention” was being broadened.

This includes allowing him to contact his city council and bank, and the right to more regular visits.

Van der Graaf will also be allowed to spend time in a special apartment within the prison where he can receive visitors overnight. He is allowed to stay there six times for a duration of up to 60 hours each time.

Van der Graaf shot the hugely popular Fortuyn, 54, in the head days before elections in which the Pim Fortuyn List 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 of controversial rightwing politician Geert Wilders, Fortuyn called Islam a “backward culture” and called for Dutch borders to be closed to immigration.

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