Populist politician's killer can emigrate, court rules

Volkert van der Graaf, the man who murdered populist politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002, no longer has to report to the probation service every six weeks, the court in The Hague ruled on Tuesday. Van der Graaf filed summary proceedings asking the court to lift this obligation so that he can emigrate abroad, NU.nl reports. 

Van der Graaf was sentenced to 18 years in prison for Fortuyn's murder. After serving two thirds of his sentence, he was conditionally released in 2014. One of the conditions of his release was that he report to the probation service on a regular basis. 

During a hearing earlier this month, it became clear that the Netherlands institute for forensic psychiatry and psychology NIFP and the probation service no longer considered the obligation to report necessary. According to the NIFP, there is no sign that Van der Graaf suffers from a psychological disorder and he therefore doesn't need treatment or counseling. As the risk of him repeating his crime is very small, the obligation that he reports to the probation service is also unnecessary, according to the institute. 

The Public Prosecutor was against the lifting of this obligation, because it wants to continue to keep an eye on Van der Graaf's development. "Every six months we look at the situation and we are quite prepared to think along, but Van der Graaf has always been difficult when it comes to the probation service and is still so", Cecile Bitter, lawyer for the Dutch State, said in court, according to the newspaper. According to her, "there has never been anyone more difficult". 

But the court ruled in Van der Graaf's favor. "Van der Graaf undeniably committed a very serious crime. That was taken into account in the punishment imposed on him", the court said in its written judgment. "When assessing whether the duty to report to the probation service should be maintained, the seriousness of the offense no longer plays a role."

The period of Van der Graaf's conditional release lasts until 2020. In that period Van der Graaf is still not allowed to commit any criminal offenses, have contact with the media or with Fortuyn's surviving relatives. Van der Graaf previously successfully fought against a number of other conditions for his release. The court previously lifted an area ban and mandatory psychiatric treatment. 

Pim Fortuyn's family hopes that Van der Graaf will leave the Netherlands soon. "The family has taken note of the verdict and welcomes Van der Gaaf''s early and actual emigration", lawyer Richard van der Weide said on behalf of the family, according to NU.nl. "We are still investigating how it can legally be achieved that he actually leaves the country and does not return. The family would prefer to never be confronted with the person Van der Graaf again."


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