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Dutch appeals court overturns terror convictions of 'Hofstad' members

[JURIST] A Dutch appeals court Wednesday overturned the convictions of seven men [BBC report] who were charged with being in a terrorist network that included Muslim extremist Mohammed Bouyeri [Wikipedia profile]. Bouyeri confessed to the November 2004 murder [BBC report; JURIST report] of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh [Wikipedia profile]. The seven men were suspected of belonging to the Dutch Muslim Hofstad Network [Wikipedia backgrounder] terror group and were convicted of planning attacks on Dutch politicians. The appeals court upheld a separate sentence of 15 years for Jason Walters, the son of a US citizen, for throwing a hand grenade at police during a siege of a barricaded house. The court reduced the sentence of another man, Ismael Aknikh, from 13 years to 15 months. A third man, Nouredine el Fahtni, is serving a four year sentence on a separate terrorism conviction, while the remaining four men have already been freed after serving sentences of less than two years. The Hague Appeals Court declined to classify the Hofstad network as a terrorist organization because the group had no lasting and structured cooperation and members did not share a common ideology.

Bouyeri, who was sentenced to life in prison [JURIST report], said he killed Van Gogh in response to his film, "Submission" [BBC report], which criticized the treatment of women under Islam. As a result of the rise in terrorist activity, the Dutch parliament [official website] in 2006 approved a new anti-terror bill [JURIST report] that dramatically lowered the amount of evidence needed for Dutch police to arrest terror suspects and allowed officials to hold suspects for up to two weeks without charge. AP has more.

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