Animal Rights Activist Loses Murder Appeal

Dutch animal rights activist Volkert van der Graaf recently lost his appeal to reduce his prison sentence for the 2002 assassination of politician Pim Fortuyn.

For the pre-mediated, cold blood assassination of a major political figure, van der Graaf was sentenced to only 18 years in jail. He and his lawyers believed even that was too long and appealed in an attempt to get it reduced to 12 years. Prosecutors also appealed, arguing that the political nature of the crime demanded life imprisonment.

The appeals court, however, let the 18 year sentence stand. With good behavior, van der Graaf should be out of prison by 2014. That’s just bizarre — imagine if Sirhan Sirhan had been released in 1980! If you’re into political murders, the Netherlands is apparently the place to be.

There were a couple of new revelations at the appeal. The prosecutor argued that van der Graaf’s primary motivation for killing Fortuyn was Fortuyn’s promise to lift the ban on fur farms. When questioned about this, van der Graaf conceded that it was a factor in his decision to kill Fortuyn, but that it was not his primary motivation.

The issue of van der Graaf’s connection with another murder also resurfaced after a Dutch television station broadcast a story on the similarity between the assassination of Fortuyn and the still-unsolved murder of environmental officer Chris van de Werken.

Previous reports said that van der Graaf had been questioned in that murder, but a Dutch television report claimed that, in fact, van der Graaf had never been questioned by police about van de Werken’s murder. The Fortuyn List Party formally asked Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner to re-open the investigation into van de Werken’s death.


Van der Graaf loses sentence appeal. Expatica.Com, July 18, 2003.

Court rejects appeal by Dutch Fortuyn’s killer. Wendel Broere, Reuters, July 18, 2003.

Dutch court upholds term in assassination of Fortuyn. Associated Press, July 19, 2003.

Dutch Court Hears Assassination Appeal. Associated Press, July 1, 2003.

No change for killer. Radio Netherlands, July 18, 2003.

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