Eindhoven terrorism suspects discussed beheading Dutch PM, far-right politician: Prosecutor
Eight men from Eindhoven suspected of preparing a terrorist attack talked about killing Mark Rutte and Geert Wilders, among others. They wanted to "pop them in the head" or "kidnap and behead the politicians "during a live stream," said the public prosecutor on Thursday during the first preparatory hearing about the case in a Rotterdam courtroom.
PVV leader Wilders was in court to hear the accusations.
The men, aged between 20 and 31, are said to sympathize with the jihadist ideas of the terrorist group ISIS. They are suspected of preparing and training for a terrorist offense and participating in a terrorist organization. According to the Public Prosecution Service (OM), they regularly watched ISIS propaganda videos and instructional videos about making weapons and bombs. The authorities found no weapons or explosives. The prosecutor said there were no concrete plans or dates for an attack.
The suspects vehemently deny the accusations. According to them, they were just improper jokes made in bad taste by a group of acquaintances who trained together in a garage in Eindhoven. Lawyer Peter Plasman, who represents two suspects, said that there is no real cause to allege terrorism. "It is about freedom of expression, the freedom to watch disgusting videos and make really bad jokes."
Lawyer Bart Nooitgedagt, who represents 31-year-old twin brothers Hasan A. and Huseyin A., added that his clients "are not defending themselves for something they have done in this criminal case, but something that could have happened according to the Public Prosecution Service."
The investigation started this past summer based on information from General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD). "It's all so blown out of proportion," added Younes A.'s lawyer, Serge Weening. "The AIVD kept an eye on these guys for two years and then they come up with only scant information."
The suspects have been held in pre-trial detention for more than three months. The court will decide next Thursday whether that will remain the case for the time being. After that, the next hearing on the status of the case is set for March 18.
Reporting by ANP.