Dutch appeals court overturns terrorism conviction in ”Hofstad” group case

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Dutch appeals court overturns terrorism conviction in ”Hofstad” group case


January 23, 2008 9:41 AM

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) – An appeals court in the Netherlands on Wednesday overturned the convictions of seven men on charges they belonged to a terrorist network.

The seven were associates of Mohammed Bouyeri, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004.

The court upheld a 15-year sentence on a separate charge for one of the seven, Jason Walters, who threw a hand grenade and injured several police officers in a standoff at a barricaded house in The Hague 10 days after van Gogh’s murder. The court reduced the sentence for Ismail Aknikh, who was with Walters during the standoff, from 13 years to 15 months.

He is to be released shortly because he has already served that time, a court spokeswoman said.

Four of the remaining five men had already been freed, as they received sentences of less than two years because they were only seen to have played a supporting role in the network, dubbed the ”Hofstad” group by prosecutors.

The fifth, Nouredine el Fahtni, is serving a four-year sentence for a separate terrorism conviction.

In a summary of its ruling, the Hague Appeals Court said that the group ”could not be considered a criminal and terrorist organization, because no lasting and structured cooperation has been established, nor any shared ideology.”

”The suspects were not aiming, as a group, to commit or incite violent acts. All suspects are therefore acquitted of participating in a criminal and terrorist organization.”

Bouyeri was convicted separately for Van Gogh’s murder, which was found to be an act of terrorism.

AP-WS-01-23-08 1223EST



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