'Hofstadgroep bound by hate and violence' - Dutch court punishes 'regular crimes' harder then membership in terror organisation
March 13, 2006
The Hofstad Group was bound by hate and violence
The Hofstad Group existed and had terrorist aim. But the judge decided to punish 'regular' crimes more severely then just being a member of terrorist organisation.
By our editor Japke -d.Bouma and Ahmet Olgun
Amsterdam March 11.
The reading out of the sentence took hours but it became clear. It was no friends club with radical ideas, but a real group which was planning terrorist attacks, according to the three judges in the first large trial under the new terror laws.
In a detailed and very factual sentence the judges kept looking for the border between thought and deed.
In this way the suspects who participated in meetings where hate was being preached, or where hate was being sown, or who looked at , or received material which sowed hate, were not considered as members of a terrorist organisation. But the ones who organise such meetings, or those who appear as speakers, and those who spread the violent ideology within or without the group, or show this material to third parties.
For some serious crimes such as throwing a hand grenade by Jason W. in the Haase Antheunisstraat on November 10th, a terrorist motive cannot be proven .Other serious crimes such as hindering the work of Parlimentarians such as Hirsi Ali and Wilders could not be proven. Or they could only be attributed to one member of the group- such as the murder of Theo van Gogh by Mohammed Bouyeri.
According to the judges it is uncontestable that Mohammed Bouyeri was the leader of the group and that the Hofstad Group has existed since 2003. One could speak of a" violent ideology." The members felt themselves bound by a violent ideology. During meetings in his home violence was glorified and pamphlets called for Jihad the armed holy war. Violence towards unbelievers was "continually" justified.
"There can also be no doubt" said the court, that the group was schooled in this conviction and was made ready to take part in Jihad.
"The crux of the sentence: The court sees it as a fact that the group had the intention of committing terrorist acts. The group had also instilled fear in the public, and wanted to destroy the members of the "existing order" of our country. When the judge said that the friends and family of the suspect had already disappeared from the spectators section, in order to prepare for the Friday prayer, the most important of the week.
The judge quoted extensively from the ideology of The Hofstad Group ideology and illustrated how the group had use it to threaten.
At the end of the trial sitting it transpired, at around half past two yesterday afternoon, that the sentences for membership in a terrorist organisation were not as heavy as the sentences for those suspects who had also committed 'regular' crimes. For the pure fact of participating in a terrorist organisation the court put a sentence of one year on Youssef E. and until two years for Mohammed El M. and Ahmed H. The suspects who were also guilty of crimes such as weapon possession and attempted murder received considerably higher sentences.
That is why Nouredine el Fathmi received five years- because he had a "very dangerous" machine pistol with him when he was arrested. The fact that the weapon was fully loaded, was weighed heavily on the sentencing.
The highest sentencing was for Ismail Anikh and Jason Walters, thirteen and fifteen years in jail, respectively. They are guilty of "five counts of attempted murder" of the police who came to arrest them on November 10th in the Antheunisstraat in The Hague.Jason Walters had thrown a grenade at them which could have caused "fatal injuries" in a 10 meter radius. Ismail Anikh was found to be an accomplice to this act. The two had "shown not one bit of respect for human life, and the society has to be protected from these suspects", according to the judge.
Around half past two the judge announced that the Mohammed Bouyeri would be getting back his printer from the public prosecutor. This was greeted with hearty laughter from the public tribune.
Opmerkelijk aan het vonnis was dat veel omstreden getuigen en opsporingsmethoden waren geaccepteerd door de rechter. De verklaring tegenover de politie van getuige Malika C., ex-vrouw van Samir A, die zij weigerde te herhalen in de rechtszaal, werd toegelaten.
Ook de informatie die de inlichtingendienst AIVD had verzameld, onder meer via afgetapte gesprekken in de woning van Jason W. in de Antheunisstraat, liet de rechtbank toe. De rechters erkenden wel dat ze „zeer zorgvuldig" hadden moeten omgaan met de informatie van de inlichtingendienst, omdat die via geheime en voor de rechtbank niet te controleren weg was verkregen.
Ook de verklaring van getuige Jamal B. tegenover de politie, door hem zelf later weer als „broodje-aap verhaal" afgedaan, werd door de rechter toegelaten. Diens verklaring bij de politie, dat Mohammed B. met zijn vrienden over de moord had gesproken, was coherent, vond de rechter, hoewel de verklaring uiteindelijk niet afdoende bewijs was dat Mohammed hulp had gehad. Die toevoeging kwam de rechter op gesnuif op de openbare tribune te staan. „Het ging zeker om een theekransje", zei een vrouw.
Ook veel advocaten waren na afloop teleurgesteld over het vonnis. Zij menen dat de vrijheid van godsdienst en meningsuiting erdoor wordt ingeperkt. De advocaat van Ismail A., Van der Horst, zei meteen na de zitting „absoluut" in hoger beroep te gaan.
Bij een groepje vrienden en familieleden rond de Hofstadgroep was er blijdschap. Op de hoek van de straat namen ze in de motregen de uitspraak door. Ze vonden de straffen van Ismail A. en Jason W. hoog, maar Mohammed Fahmi B. kwam nu snel naar huis. „Dit gaan we vieren", zei zijn broer.