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Netherlands appeals court increases sentences of convicted terror conspirators

[JURIST] A court of appeals in The Hague on Thursday extended prison terms for four Dutch terror suspects convicted in 2006 [JURIST report] for planning attacks against Dutch politicians and government facilities after finding them guilty of an additional charge of membership in a terrorist organization. The court agreed with evidence that they shared a single belief system and made concerted attempts to locate targeted Dutch politicians, including Netherlands Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende [official profile]. The original eight-year sentence for alleged ringleader Samir Azzouz was increased to nine years after the judges found that he "made it apparent that he despises Dutch society" and "knows no compassion for the potential victims of the acts he planned." Co-defendants Mohammed Chentouf and Nouredine al Fatmi, convicted of aiding in preparation of the attacks, and Soumaya Sahla, who was found to have been an accomplice, also received increased prison terms. AP has more.

Azzouz has been arrested multiple times in the Netherlands [JURIST news archive] and was acquitted in 2005 of participating in a terrorist conspiracy [JURIST report]. The acquittal was met with public outcry, and Dutch legislators adopted more stringent anti-terror measures [JURIST report] prohibiting membership in terrorist organizations and recruiting for such groups. Later in 2005, Azzouz was rearrested with his co-defendants for being in possession of a self-recorded suicide-bomber video, automatic weapons, ammunition, jihad training materials, and a list of home addresses for Dutch politicians [AP report], including Balkenende.

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