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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 05:37 GMT 06:37 UK
Crisis talks over Dutch killing
Protesters throw a barrier at police during protests outside the Hague
Protesters blame the government for Fortuyn's killing
Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok is to meet fellow political leaders in parliament on Tuesday to discuss whether to go ahead with upcoming elections following the assassination of right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn.

Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok
Kok has called for calm

Fortuyn, 54, was shot dead as he left a radio studio in the central Dutch city of Hilversum.

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.

Mr Kok, along with senior cabinet officials, will meet members of Fortuyn's party to see if they wish the election to go ahead.

Electoral campaigning by all parties has already been halted following an emergency session of the Dutch parliament.


On Monday night scuffles broke out between police and demonstrators in front of the parliament building in The Hague after protesters gathered to protest their anger over the killing of Fortuyn.

Pim Fortuyn
A man has been arrested in relation to Fortuyn's death

Around 300 people were involved in the protest, in which bottles and stones were thrown at police.

Police said they had arrested a 33-year-old white Dutch man in relation to the killing, but no motive has yet been established.

The BBC's William Horsley says the killing is likely to raise political tensions not only in the Netherlands, but potentially in many parts of Europe, where issues of immigration, race relations and nationalism - on which Fortuyn was most outspoken - have come to the centre of the political debate.

Pim's policies
Halt immigration
Integrate existing immigrants
Re-erect Dutch border controls
Sack 25% of civil servants
End Dutch system of consensus politics
"This is deeply tragic first of all for him and for all his loved ones. It is also deeply tragic for our democracy," Mr Kok said.

"In God's name let's keep calm. At a time when you want to be very angry, being calm is the best way," he said.

However, the acting prime minister's calls went unheeded as Fortuyn's supporters brandished photos of him and screamed abuse against the political establishment.

Protesters tore down barricades and threw them at police with dogs. Riot police were deployed to restore order.

International reaction

Politicians across Europe and the United States joined in condemning the assassination.

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

Mourners laying flowers outside Fortuyn's Rotterdam house
Flowers have been laid outside the slain politician's house
His British counterpart Tony Blair warned against violently targeting politicians, regardless of their political beliefs.

"The United States ... condemns this senseless act of violence," said state department spokeswoman Brenda Greenberg.

Far-right parties have also expressed strong sentiments.

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.

He was shot six times, suffering multiple wounds in the head, chest and neck, and died shortly afterwards.

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.


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

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.

But Interior Minister Klaas De Vries said that Pim Fortuyn had not received any threats to his safety.

The BBC's Angus Roxburgh
"The assassination has shocked the country"
Member of Pim Fortuyn's party Jim Janssen Van Raay
"He had many threats"
MEP from ruling socialist party Michiel Van Hulten
"I think it is impossible to hold elections under these conditions"
See also:

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