The man accused of killing Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh -- a vocal critic of Islam -- confessed to a Dutch court that he acted on his religious beliefs, saying he would do "exactly the same" if he were ever set free.
Shortly after Van Gogh's killing: a banner says "Stop the Hatred"
"I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion," 27-year-old Dutch-Moroccan national Mohammed Bouyeri (photo) told the court in Amsterdam. "I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do exactly the same, exactly the same," he said, speaking slowly at times in halting Dutch.
Prosecutors asked that Bouyeri be sent to prison for life -- a sentence that offers no chance of parole -- for shooting and stabbing controversial filmmaker van Gogh on Nov. 2, 2004.
In his final statement to the court, Bouyeri -- who showed no emotions throughout the trial and refused to speak -- said he felt he owed van Gogh's mother Anneke some explanation. "I have to admit I do not feel for you, I do not feel your pain, I cannot -- I don't know what it is like to lose a child," he said.
"I cannot feel for you ... because I believe you are a non-believer," he added. "I acted out of conviction -- not because I hated your son."
Bouyeri told the prosecutor that he concurred with the charges against him and the demand for a life sentence. "I would be cowardly to hide behind (the right to remain silent) and have a chance to thus escape the maximum punishment," he said. "If I had the possibility to do again what I did on November 2, I would do it all again," Bouyeri added.
Beyond a life sentence, prosecutors demanded that Bouyeri be stripped of his right to vote or stand for election for the rest of his life, "to literally place him outside of our democracy."
Theo van Gogh
Earlier prosecutor Frits van Straelen said: "We know that Theo van Gogh (photo) was not a saint. ... He was an incorrigible criticaster who had elevated insulting to an art form." He recalled that Van Gogh lashed out at Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.
Van Gogh's murder -- which happened in plain view of more than 50 witnesses while he was cycling to work -- stoked ethnic tensions and sparked a wave of reprisal attacks primarily directed at the Muslim community in Amsterdam.