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Netherlands lawmakers call for reform of terror legislation in wake of court ruling

[JURIST] Dutch parliamentarians called for changes to the country’s terrorism laws Thursday in response to a Wednesday appeals court decision overturning the convictions of seven men [JURIST report] suspected of belonging to the Dutch Muslim Hofstad Network [Wikipedia backgrounder]. The Hague Appeals Court dismissed charges that the men were part of a terrorist network that included Muslim extremist Mohammed Bouyeri [Wikipedia profile], who confessed to the 2004 murder [JURIST report] of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh [Wikipedia profile]. Fred Teeven, a former justice ministry official and a member of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy [party website, in Dutch] criticized current Dutch anti-terror law for restricting justice ministry officials from effectively convicting members of groups like the Hofstad Network. Haersma Buma of the Christian Democrats [party website, in Dutch] also pushed for reform, saying that he would back changes to the law if the Council of State, the highest court in the Netherlands, upholds the appeal court's decision. Dutch prosecutors at the Public Prosecution Service [official website, in English] expressed disappointment in the ruling and said it would study the verdicts carefully before deciding whether to appeal the case to the Council of State.

The Hague Appeals Court declined to classify the Hofstad Network as a terrorist organization because it had no lasting and structured cooperation and members did not share a common ideology. In response to rising terrorism activity, the Dutch parliament [official website] amended the country's terrorism laws in 2006, approving an 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. DutchNews has more.

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