Pim Fortuyn Assassin Not Suspected In Earlier Murder

Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner recently told Expatica News that Pim Fortuyn’s assassin is not a suspect in the 1996 murder of an environmental official.

After animal rights activist Volkert van der Graaf, 34, was arrested for the assassination of Fortuyn in 2002, speculation in the media suggested he may have been involved in the 1996 murder of Chris van de Werken. The Populist List Pim Fortuyn party asked the Justice Minister to reopen the investigation into van de Werken’s death in light of Fortuyn’s murder.

Van der Werken was responsible for farm inspections and had clashed with van der Graaf over the former’s inspections. Moreover, Van der Werken was killed in a similar manner as Fortuyn — shot at short range with a small caliber handgun loaded with silver-tip hollow-point bullets. Van der Graaf was interviewed by police after Van der Werken’s murder, but was never a suspect in the case.

Donner rejected the call to re-open the van der Werken investigation, saying that since the case had never been closed there was no need to reopen. Donner also said that van der Graaf is not considered a suspect in the earlier murder.


Pim killer ‘innocent’ of second murder. Expatica.Com, August 15, 2003.

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.

Volkert van der Graaf In Court

Animal rights activist and confessed murderer Volkert van der Graaf appeared in court at the end of March and explained how and why he killed Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn just days before that country’s 2002 election.

Van der Graaf told the court,

I got the impression that he was looking for a scapegoat he could use to increase his popularity. That was a great concern to me.

. . .

I saw him as a highly vindictive man who used feeling in society to boost his personal stature. The ideas he had about refugees, asylum seekers, the environment, animals . . . He was always using or abusing the weak side of society to get ahead.

Van der Graaf told the court that he was not a violent man, which was a bit odd given that police found dozens of condoms filled with explosives and a timer device in the attic of his home. Van der Graaf maintains he was simply fascinated by explosives and never intended to use them. Right, just like he was fascinated with guns but never intended to kill someone who had different political views.

A psychiatrist who examined Van der Graaf testified that he was sane, but had an obsessive compulsive disorder that manifested itself in “perfectionism and a rigid morality.” A rigid morality? From an animal rights activist? You don’t say.

Van der Graaf’s conviction at his trial is a foregone conclusion, with the only remaining issue being the length of his sentence.


Pim Fortuyn murder suspect says he made explosives. Abigail Levene, Reuters, March 31, 2003.

Fortuyn suspect had explosives. Associated Press, March 31, 2003.

Fortuyn killer beset by doubt. The BBC, March 31, 2003.

‘Sane’ Volkert faces life for Fortuyn shooting. Expatica News, March 31, 2003.

Fortuyn killer ‘acted for Muslims’. CNN, March 27, 2003.

Alleged Fortuyn Assassin Reportedly Confesses

Dutch prosecutors say that accused assassin Volkert van der Graaf has confessed to the murder of politician Pim Fortuyn.

Van der Graaf, a vegan involved in animal rights-related causes, apparently told prosecutors that he murdered Fortuyn because he considered him a danger to society (as opposed, apparently, to someone who would commit premeditated assassination).

According to a CNN story on the case,

“(Van der Graaf) has admitted that he purposefully shot dead Fortuyn. He had conceived this plan some time earlier,” the public prosecutor said in a statement obtained by Reuters.

The prosecutor’s statement said Van der Graaf had said “he saw in Fortuyn an increasing danger to, in particular, vulnerable sections of society.”

. . .

Van der Graaf said Fortuyn expressed what were stigmatizing political ideas and he threatened to seize huge political power, according to prosecutors.

“Van der (Graaf) saw no other way he could stop that danger than to kill Fortuyn,” Saturday’s statement said.

Van der Graaf will next undergo psychiatric tests ahead of a trial planned for 2003.


Fortuyn murder case: ‘Confession’. CNN, November 23, 2002.

Prosecutors Outline Case Against Volkert van der Graaf

Prosecutors in the Netherlands recently outlined their case against Volkert van der Graaf who is charged with murdering Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn. Van der Graaf is a vegan animal rights activist who as a teenager founded a branch of the Animal Liberation Front and had spent his adult life fighting animal agriculture in court.

In a televised hearing, prosecutors offered what seems like overwhelming evidence of van der Graaf’s guilt. Van der Graaf was seen by multiple witnesses fleeing the scene. When he was caught, there were gun powder stains on his coat and on the latex gloves he was wearing. Ballistics tests of the gun found in his position establish that it was likely the murder weapon, which was strengthened by the fact that blood from Fortuyn was also found on the gun.

A search of van der Graaf’s house turned up maps of the area where Fortuyn was killed as well as evidence that van der Graaf had been accumulating information about Fortuyn’s movements for months.

Police also turned up bomb-making material in van der Graaf’s home. Investigators found sulphuric and hydrochcloric acid, condoms filled witih potassium chloride and sugar, and a timer.

Police also announced they are seeking a second possible suspect. Analysis of the gun turned up not only DNA for Fortuyn and van der Graaf, but also a third man who is known to police and has previously committed a crime. The prosecutor did not identify the man in court, but said it was pursuing the lead to avoid conspiracy theories later (the implication being that police believe that van der Graaf purchased his weapon from a known criminal).

Van der Graaf’s trial is expected to start in about three months.


‘Second figure’ may have been involved in Dutch assassination. Andrew Osborn, The Guardian (London), August 10, 2002.

Accomplice sought in Fortuyn murder. Andrew Osborn, The Guardian (London), August 10, 2002.

Dutch watch case against Fortuyn suspect on live TV. Marie Devine, The Independent (London), August 10, 2002.

Alleged Animal Rights Assassin Goes on Hunger Strike

The Financial Times reported this weekend that Volkert van der Graaf, the animal rights activist and alleged assassin of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, has gone on a hunger strike to protest is prison conditions.

According to his lawyer, van der Graaf is being held in solitary confinement and monitored via video camera in a cell that is lighted 24 hours a day.

Dutch prison authorities say they have taken such measures because they are afraid van der Graaf will try to commit suicide.


Fortuyn suspect on hunger strike. Ian Bickerton, July 14, 2002.