Volkert van der Graaf

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Volkert van der Graaf (born July 9, 1969) is the assassin of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn on 6 May 2002. Born in Middelburg, Van der Graaf was a self-described animal rights activist and environmentalist extremist.[1] [2]

On May 6, 2002, Van der Graaf shot Fortuyn, and was arrested shortly thereafter. Van der Graaf stated that he assassinated the populist Dutch politician in order to "protect weaker groups in society" and exploiting Muslims as "scapegoats" seeking political power, but later expressed doubt over whether his actions were justified. His hearings started August 9. His trial started on March 27, 2003 and continued till April 15, 2003 when he was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison. During the trials, suggestions of insanity were rejected. The trial generated large interest from the Dutch public, especially Fortuyn supporters.[1] Van der Graaf appealed for the reduction of the sentence to 16 years, but on July 18, 2003, the appeals court upheld the previous punishment.

Contents

Early life

Van der Graaf was born in Middelburg and by the time he attended university in Wageningen, he was vegan and an advocate of animal rights. Van der Graaf was said to be a highly intelligent perfectionist who was emotionally uncommunicative and intolerant of those with different values to his own. A psychiatrists' report presented in his trial concluded that Van der Graaf was sane.

He was employed by the environmental organisation Vereniging Milieu Offensief in Wageningen, which he had co-founded in 1992. His job involved conducting judicial proceedings against violators of environmental regulations. He concentrated particularly on contesting intensive animal farming and fur farming. He was said to be highly motivated in his work, working more than the four days per week of his contract and was very successful, winning about three out of every four cases. He lived with his girlfriend and their daughter in Harderwijk, where they had moved in 2001, but was said to have appeared over-stressed since the birth of their child on December 6, 2001.

Murder of Fortuyn

On May 6, 2002 Pim Fortuyn was murdered outside a radio studio in Hilversum at 6:00 p.m., just after he finished an interview. The interviewer Ruud de Wild was a witness to the murder. Following the murder he had severe psychological problems and divorced. Van der Graaf was arrested near the scene of the crime after a pursuit by witnesses. Details of the suspect have always been officially reported as "Volkert van der G." in accordance with unwritten Dutch privacy practice. However his full name was readily available on the net and addresses were soon circulating on web sites used by Fortuyn's supporters. With passions running high and angry followers of supporters gathering in several cities, several people related to Van der Graaf went into hiding. His girlfriend and their daughter left their house on the evening of the murder.

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