Government and opposition MPs have called for possible changes to Dutch laws on terrorism following yesterday’s dismissal of charges against the so-called Hofstad group.
The appeal court ruled that the seven men said to form the Hofstad network are not members of a terrorist organisation.
The seven, including Mohammed Bouyeri who was convicted of murdering film-maker Theo van Gogh in 2004, were earlier sentenced to up to 15 years in jail.
The appeal court ruled that there is not enough evidence to convict the men of being part of an organised network. The meetings they held were not organised as such and there was not enough proof that they all shared the same beliefs, the court said.
The public prosecution department said it was extremely disappointed by the appeal court ruling and would study the verdicts carefully before deciding whether to take the case to the Council of State, the country’s highest judicial body.
Opposition Liberal (VVD) MP Fred Teeven, a former justice ministry official, called for changes in the law. ‘As the law now stands, the police and justice ministry officials can’t do anything. It is unacceptable that we can’t tackle this kind of network,’ news agency ANP reports him as saying.
Haersma Buma of the ruling Christian Democrats (CDA) said he would also back changes to the law if the Council of State shares the appeal court’s position.
The appeal court did uphold the 15-year sentence imposed on Jason Walters at the original trial for throwing a grenade at police officers during his arrest in 2004. He was found guilty of five counts of attempted murder but did not have a terrorist motive, the appeal court said.
Ismail Akhnikh, sentenced to 13 year for his role in the grenade attack, saw his jail term slashed to 15 months. He was found not guilty of attempted murder but guilty of possessing grenades.
The other five were found not guilty.