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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 July 2005, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
Van Gogh killer jailed for life
Mohammed Bouyeri
Bouyeri was arrested shortly after Van Gogh's killing
A Dutch court has sentenced a 27-year-old radical Islamist to life in prison for the November murder of controversial film-maker Theo van Gogh.

Mohammed Bouyeri, who has joint Dutch-Moroccan nationality, had made a courtroom confession and had vowed to do the same again if given the chance.

The murder in Amsterdam stunned the Netherlands. The court ruled that it was a terrorist act.

The judge said the murder had triggered "great fear and insecurity" in society.

"The murder of Theo van Gogh provoked a wave of revulsion and disdain in the Netherlands. Theo van Gogh was mercilessly slaughtered," said Judge Udo Willem Bentinck.

Brutal killing

Bouyeri had told the court he had acted out of religious conviction.

Clutching a copy of the Koran, he said that "the law compels me to chop off the head of anyone who insults Allah and the prophet".

Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh
Theo Van Gogh was a well-known critic of fundamentalist Islam

Van Gogh, a strong critic of radical Islam, was shot and stabbed in broad daylight as he was cycling through Amsterdam.

His throat was slashed and the killer also pinned a letter to his chest with a knife, which threatened Somali-born Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

She had written the script for Van Gogh's controversial film Submission, which criticised the treatment of women under Islam.

The trial in Amsterdam took place in a heavily guarded building and about 20 relatives and friends of Van Gogh were present, Radio Netherlands reporter Eric Hesen told the BBC News website.

Van Gogh's 14-year-old son wept and was embraced by his mother as the film-maker's death was described in court. Van Gogh was a distant relative of the famous 19th-Century painter Vincent.

Alleged network

The judgement said the killer had shown "a complete disregard for human life".

Mr Bouyeri said nothing, but looked "very calm and superior", according to Mr Hesen.

He was also convicted of the attempted murder of several police officers and bystanders and illegal possession of firearms.

His sentence carries no possibility of parole.

The Dutch are still struggling to understand how Bouyeri, who was born and raised in Amsterdam, turned to radical Islam, the BBC's Geraldine Coughlan reports.

After this trial, the authorities will decide if he can be prosecuted separately for membership of a terrorist organisation.

Twelve other terrorism suspects are awaiting trial in the Netherlands and prosecutors believe Mr Bouyeri is a key figure in that group, but so far they have not come up with enough evidence to charge him.

After the Van Gogh murder, mosques in several Dutch cities were the targets of vandalism and failed arson attempts.

See the judge passing sentence on Mohammed Bouyeri

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