Extended prison sentence for four terror plotters
An appeals court on Thursday increased the prison sentences of four Islamic radicals accused of plotting attacks on Dutch politicians, convicting them of the additional charge of membership in a terrorist organisation.
The Hague appeals court re-convicted the four Dutch nationals of Moroccan descent for plotting attacks, and said trial evidence showed they were part of a single group, as prosecutors had argued.
Judges cited their adherence to a single violent belief system, their training with firearms, and their coordinated efforts to find the addresses of Dutch politicians on a hit-list, including the prime minister.
The court's judges added a year to the sentence of ringleader Samir A., 22, giving him a total of nine years in prison. A. had videotaped a suicide testament.
Both defendants and prosecutors had appealed the original ruling. The defendants asked for acquittal and the prosecutors sought longer sentences, including 15 years for A.
A. "has made it apparent that he despises Dutch society," judges said in a written ruling. "He has shown that he has no respect for those who have different views and knows no compassion for the potential victims of the acts he planned."
A. evaded jail twice in investigations into alleged terrorist activities. The first time, he was caught with bomb-making materials, but he was released without charge on a technicality.
He later was charged with planning an attack, but was acquitted when the judges ruled his preparations were not advanced enough to prove a terrorist intent.
While testifying as a defence witness in a case against several of his friends, A. told judges: "We reject your system. We hate you. I guess that about sums it up."
Among the other defendants in the appeal, Nouredine al F. received a sentence doubled to eight years. Al F. presided over indoctrination sessions of potential recruits and was arrested with a machine gun on a train platform. The sentence of his ex-wife, Soumaya S., was increased to four years from three.
Mohammed C. was sentenced to six years, up from four.
The judges rejected defence arguments that Dutch secret service evidence was used improperly in the case and that prosecutors withheld evidence and lied about doing so.
A. defence lawyer Victor Koppe declined to comment. Bart Nooitgedagt, defending S., described the decision as "bungled" and said he would appeal to the High Court.