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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/netherlands/1425944/Fortuyn-killed-to-protect-Muslims.html텔레그라프Fortuyn killed 'to protect Muslims'

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard and Joan Clements in Amsterdam
Published: 12:00AM GMT 28 Mar 2003

A Left-wing activist confessed in court yesterday to Holland's first political assassination in 400 years, claiming that he shot Pim Fortuyn to defend Dutch Muslims from persecution.

Volkert van der Graaf, 33, a vegan animal rights campaigner, said he alone was responsible for killing the maverick protest leader last May, days before a general election in which the Fortuyn List party vaulted into second place and shattered Holland's consensus.


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Muslims hail LPF defeat Facing a raucous court on the first day of his murder trial, he said his goal was to stop Mr Fortuyn exploiting Muslims as "scapegoats" and targeting "the weak parts of society to score points" to try to gain political power.

He said: "I confess to the shooting. He was an ever growing danger who would affect many people in society. I saw it as a danger. I hoped that I could solve it myself."

Mr Fortuyn's relatives wore fur coats in the high-security court to show scorn for the animal rights zealot. "I want to cause him maximum pain, I will make sure he notices me," said Jolanda Fortuyn, a sister-in-law who helped edit many of Mr Fortuyn's inflammatory books and columns.

Onlookers in the gallery shouted abuse through a glass screen, with a vehemence unusual for the Dutch. "Life! Life," chanted Fortuyn supporters, some of whom were jostled from the room by bailiffs.

Van der Graaf, who avoided eye contact with the family, could be jailed for 20 years. Holland does not practice the death penalty.

He confessed to the crime last November, after months of silence, but had never explained publicly why he reacted so violently against his victim, a gay former Marxist professor who mixed Left-wing and Right-wing ideas.

The shaven-headed Fortuyn, who used to sweep across Rotterdam in a chauffeur-driven Daimler with two King Charles spaniels by his side, relished mocking all forms of political correctness, but rarely ventured into the animal rights dispute.

His chief targets were militant Islam and the persecution of gays and lesbians. He said the emergence in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and The Hague of Muslim ghettoes resisting assimilation threatened Holland's liberal society and national cohesion.

His murder stunned the nation. Thousands queued outside the Rotterdam Stadhuis to sign a condolence book.

Mr Fortuyn's party survived 100 days in office before its coalition partners called a fresh election in January. The established parties co-opted much of Mr Fortuyn's law-and-order message, reducing his party to eight MPs.

The trial is expected to last three days, with a verdict next month. The panel of judges must decide whether Van der Graaf is mentally fit to be held accountable for the crime.



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