Fortuyn's alleged killer breaks silence

BY Advocate.com Editors

November 26 2002 12:00 AM ET

The animal rights activist charged with murdering openly gay Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn has confessed to the crime, breaking a seven-month silence and saying he thought the populist Dutch politician was a danger to society, prosecutors said Saturday.

In his first statement since his arrest minutes after the shooting last May, Volkert van der Graaf, 33, said he had been concerned that Fortuyn was gaining too much power and posed a threat to "vulnerable members of society," the Amsterdam district attorney's office said. He also said he was worried about Fortuyn's "prejudiced political ideas" and their possible polarizing effect in the Netherlands. Van der Graaf, the only suspect in the case, said he acted alone and that no one else knew he intended to kill Fortuyn, who was then a leading candidate in national elections for prime minister. Van der Graaf faces possible life imprisonment for premeditated murder, a sentence rarely handed down in the Netherlands.

Under Dutch law, prosecutors still need to prove their case in court even when a suspect confesses. Hearings are expected to begin as scheduled early next year.

Fortuyn's party, which was named Pim Fortuyn's List, went on to become the second largest in the Netherlands after the national elections and won a place in the three-party governing coalition. But bickering among its members led to the collapse of the government last month. The party is expected to virtually disappear when new elections are held on January 22.

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