Dutch Terror Trials Begin

Dutch trials begin this week on investigations started after the gruesome murder of film maker Theo van Gogh:

Prosecutors on Monday launched their case against 12 alleged Muslim extremists accused of plotting to derail the country’s democracy by murdering prominent politicians.

Prosecutors said the men had copies of a letter left on the body of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, handbooks on how to carry out ritual Islamic murders, and spoke in tapped telephone conversations about slaying nonbelievers like sacrificial lambs.

A number of them trained in Pakistan to carry out armed attacks, prosecutors said.

Defense attorneys said their clients were acquaintances, but not terrorists, and the evidence against them was weak.

“My client will be found innocent in the end,” said defense lawyer Robert Ketwaru, accusing prosecutors of going on a “witch hunt” after Van Gogh’s Nov. 2 killing. “My client wishes to emphasize that murder has nothing to do with Islam.”

The charges against the 12 include conspiracy to commit murder in a terrorist attack, impeding democracy, threatening the lives of politicians, attempted arson and illegal possession of firearms. They could face life imprisonment if convicted.

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