BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Monday, 6 May, 2002, 21:43 GMT 22:43 UK
Dutch far-right leader shot dead
Pim Fortuyn
Mr Fortuyn had just finished an interview
The Dutch right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn has been shot dead.

Fortuyn, 54, was attacked as he left a radio studio in the central Dutch city of Hilversum. He was shot six times and suffered multiple wounds in the head, chest and neck, and died shortly afterwards.

It is deeply tragic for our democracy

Acting Prime Minister Wim Kok
Police said they had arrested a white Dutch man in relation to the killing, but no motive has yet been established.

The maverick politician, who had been campaigning on an anti-immigration ticket, was expected to do well in general elections in nine days' time, picking up at least 15% of the vote.

After an emergency session, the Dutch Government called a halt to political campaigning - a decision on whether the poll will go ahead is to be taken on Tuesday.


BBC correspondent William Horsley said that the killing will raise the political tensions not only in the Netherlands, but potentially in many parts of Europe, where issues of immigration, race relations and nationalism have come to the centre of the political debate.

About 300 people gathered outside the parliament building in The Hague to express their anger at the killing.

Mr Kok broke off campaigning to return to the official capital, the Hague.

"This is deeply tragic first of all for him and for all his loved ones. It is also deeply tragic for our democracy," he said.

Ad Melkert, leader of the governing socialists, said the shooting was "appalling".

"It's hard to grasp this can happen in The Netherlands. Dutch democracy has lost its innocence," he told NOS television.

International reaction

Politicians across Europe joined in condemning the assassination.

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said he believed something like this was "impossible in this day in age, in the European Union, in the 21st Century".

Mourners laying flowers outside Fortuyn's Rotterdam house
It was shocking for many people
His British counterpart Tony Blair warned against violently targeting politicians, regardless of their political beliefs.

Far-right parties have also expressed strong sentiments.

Expressing his shock, Bruno Megret, head of France's right-wing National Republican Movement (MNR), said: "If it was politically motivated, this criminal act shows to what extent certain hysterical positions like those shown by the French left over the past 15 days can incite hatred."

Gunman 'chased'

Eyewitnesses say a single gunman shot Fortuyn as he got into a chauffeur-driven limousine in the media park where the radio station is located.

Ambulance at the scene of the shooting
Paramedics treated Mr Fortuyn on the scene
Television reporter Dave Abspoel said four people chased the gunman, who apparently fired in their direction.

But the BBC's Geraldine Coughlan in the Hague says it would have been difficult to gain access to the media park, where several TV and radio studios are located, without going through tight identity and security checks.

She said that the Dutch media and politicians have reacted with shock to an attack which is unprecedented in Dutch politics.


In an interview last week, Fortuyn expressed fears that he could be the victim of an attack and said that he had received threats by phone, e-mail and letter.

A few weeks ago, protesters threw two cream pies laced with urine in his face.

Although most Dutch politicians travel without any personal security, and often use public transport, Fortuyn did use private bodyguards, though he could not afford constant security.

Fortuyn has provoked public indignation by calling for the Netherlands' borders to be closed to immigrants and by describing Islam as a 'backward' religion.

Fortuyn said that, if he was successful in the 15 May elections, he would only be satisfied with the post of prime minister and would not accept a place in the cabinet.

The BBC's Nicholas Jones
"His death has thrown the election into confusion"
The BBC's Paulo Buonadanna
"He had a superficially attractive message"
Pim Fortuyn's spokesman, Warmer Dam
"I'm not sure what the future will bring"
Willem Kool, De Telegraaf
"I wouldn't brand Pim Fortuyn as a racist"
See also:

06 May 02 | Europe
Obituary: Pim Fortuyn
04 May 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
At home with 'Professor Pim'
06 May 02 | Europe
The impact of Pim Fortuyn's death
06 May 02 | Europe
In Pictures: Pim Fortuyn's death
22 Apr 02 | Europe
The rise of the European right
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories