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Dutch Say Murder Suspect Confessed

November 24, 2002|From Times Wire Services

AMSTERDAM — The animal rights activist charged with killing Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn has confessed, saying he believed the anti-immigration populist was a danger to society, prosecutors said Saturday.

In his first statement since his arrest minutes after the shooting in 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.

Van der Graaf also said he was worried about Fortuyn's "prejudiced political ideas" and their possible polarizing effect, prosecutors reported.

He said that he had acted alone and that no one else knew he intended to kill Fortuyn, who was a leading candidate in national elections.

He faces possible life imprisonment for premeditated murder, a sentence rarely handed down here.

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

The openly gay Fortuyn, 54, sent shockwaves through the Netherlands' political system by calling for a halt to immigration and branding Islam "backward."

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