Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Theo Van Gogh

The Bouyeri Trial
— New Chapter

Mohammed Bouyeri
Mohammed Bouyeri

Mohammed Bouyeri's trial for the murder of Theo Van Gogh began Monday, July 11, 2005. For the most part, Bouyeri remained silent and told his lawyer, Peter Plasman, that he wanted no part in the case. He turned his back to the judges because he does not recognize the court's authority.

Fox News reported that "Bouyeri, allegedly a member of a terrorist cell known as the Hofstad Network, is said to have attended private prayer sessions with a Syrian spiritual leader, Redouan al-Issar, who disappeared shortly before the Van Gogh killing."

There was "some evidence Bouyeri had help, especially financial help, in preparing the killing," but there are no other suspects who can be directly tied to the crime. The gun used in the murder was estimated to have cost EUR 1000, plus Bouyeri had no money of his own for living expenses.

The Guardian Unlimited reported Monday that Bouyeri "quoted Arabic prayers at judges as his trial began Monday and walked out of court holding a Quran above his head."

Judges said Bouyeri laughed and told his younger brother, Hassan: "I knew what I was doing, and I succeeded."

Rudolph Peters, Professor of Islamic Culture at University of Amsterdam told reporters: "My conclusion is that Mr. Bouyeri saw himself as an instrument of God.''

On Tuesday, July 12, the second day of the trial, Bouyeri, 27, told the court, "I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion."

Prosecutors have asked for him to go to prison for life. Bouyeri's response was ""I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do exactly the same, exactly the same."

The Khaleej Times Online reported that in his final statement to the court, Bouyeri said that he felt he owed Van Gogh's mother Anneke some explanation:

"I have to admit I do not feel for you, I do not feel your pain, I cannot.   I don't know what it is like to lose a child," he said. "I cannot feel for you ... because I believe you are a nonbeliever," he added.

"I acted out of conviction not because I hated your son."

What is not clear at this time is whether Bouyeri will serve his sentence in solitary confinement. Dutch prisons have been described as "holiday camps." According to, prosecutors have sought to prevent Bouyeri from allegedly continuing to try to convert other inmates to his violent Islamist creed and from continuing to smuggle out texts inciting other Muslims to violence:

"It does not matter that his fellow inmates may not be susceptible to B.'s [Bouyeri's] brand of fanaticism. Nor does it matter that his writings may have been rejected out of hand by those who read them.

The overriding issue is who controls the prisons: the authorities or the prisoners."


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