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Last Updated: Monday, 16 October 2006, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Dutch terror suspects go on trial
Relatives of Samir Azzouz arrive at the Amsterdam court where he is on trial
Relatives of Samir Azzouz were present at the Amsterdam court
Six suspects have gone on trial in the Netherlands under tough new anti-terror laws, accused of links to an Islamist terrorist group.

The six are charged with belonging to a terrorist organisation, planning to attack Dutch politicians and government buildings, and possessing weapons.

They are alleged to have links with the so-called Hofstad group, nine of whom were jailed earlier this year.

They included the man convicted of killing film-maker Theo Van Gogh.

Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch Moroccan considered to be the leader of the Hofstad group, is serving a life sentence for the murder.

Eight other Hofstad group members were sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for membership of a terrorist organisation.

Re-arrested

Prosecutors believe the six suspects on trial at a high security court in Amsterdam are linked to the Hofstad group. One of them is a woman, Soumaya Sahla.

Main suspect - Samir Azzouz
Samir Azzouz was acquitted earlier this year but re-arrested

The main suspect, 20-year-old Samir Azzouz, a Dutch Moroccan man, was acquitted last year on charges that he planned attacks, although the court ruled he had terrorist intent.

His acquittal led to calls for tougher legislation.

He was re-arrested on suspicion of planning new attacks and faces new laws, which allow suspects to be tried for attacks that security forces believe they are planning to carry out.

'Recruiting for jihad'

Prosecutor Alexander van Dam opened proceedings on Monday, saying: "All suspects are being charged with being members of a terrorist organisation.

"The organisation had as its aim to carry out terrorist crimes such as murder, explosions and threats.

"They are also accused of trying to recruit jihad warriors, instigation to commit crimes, and forgery."

Samir Azzouz has become well-known in the Netherlands after his previous trial and for being picked up regularly in security services sweeps.

Dutch television screened a video in which he urged jihad.

But he said it should not be taken seriously.

Speaking by telephone from prison, he told Dutch TV he had been demonised by an Islamaphobic, paranoid state and would seek political asylum in Cuba.


SEE ALSO
Dutch reconsider Islamic values
21 Apr 06 |  Europe
Dutch pledge Islamist crackdown
05 Nov 04 |  Europe

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