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Fortuyn murder case: 'Confession'

Fortuyn: His influence on Dutch politics continues to be felt

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AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands -- The vegan animal rights activist charged with May's shock murder of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn has confessed, prosecutors say.

Suspect Volkert van der Graaf said he killed the controversial right-wing leader because he considered him a danger to society.

The flamboyant Fortuyn was gunned down just days before his fledgling Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) swept to second place in May's general election. Van der Graaf, 32, was arrested moments after the murder and has been in custody since.

"(Van der Graaf) has admitted that he purposefully shot dead Fortuyn. He had conceived this plan some time earlier," the public prosecutor said in a statement obtained by Reuters.

The prosecutor's statement said Van der Graaf had said "he saw in Fortuyn an increasing danger to, in particular, vulnerable sections of society." It is first indication of any motive for the killing.


The openly gay Fortuyn sent shockwaves through the Netherlands' cosy consensual political system by calling for a halt to immigration and branding Islam as "backward."

The 54-year-old courted controversy with his robust style, being blunt, outspoken and flamboyant, an approach formerly unseen in Dutch politics.

The former Marxist sociology lecturer and newspaper columnist stood out with his shaven-head and bright, colourful ties and was also conspicuous travelling around in a car with blacked-out windows.

After his death, the May election catapulted Fortuyn's party into a three-way centre-right coalition with the Christian Democrats and VVD Liberals.

But in-fighting between LPF ministers brought a cabinet collapse last month. The government was the shortest-lived in the Netherlands since World War Two.

Opinion polls suggest voters will consign the LPF -- founded only in February -- to virtual political oblivion when new elections are held on January 22, losing most of its 26 seats.

Van der Graaf said Fortuyn expressed what were stigmatising political ideas and he threatened to seize huge political power, according to prosecutors.

"Van der (Graaf) saw no other way he could stop that danger than to kill Fortuyn," Saturday's statement said.

The accused said he had acted alone -- as prosecutors have maintained -- and that no one else knew of his plans.

Van der Graaf's lawyers said earlier this month that their client would soon break his silence and make a statement. The statement was made to a judge earlier this week in the presence of the prosecutor and defence lawyers.

At a preliminary court hearing in August, prosecutors said Van der Graaf was arrested carrying a loaded gun speckled with the victim's blood and that his clothes had absorbed blood matching Fortuyn's DNA.

Van der Graaf is to undergo psychiatric tests before his trial, which is expected to begin next year.

Fortuyn's brief contribution to Dutch public life continues to define the country's politics.

Last week the leader of the Dutch Green Left party, who was a relentless critic of Fortuyn quit politics after receiving death threats, his party said.

Some supporters of Fortuyn had blamed Green party leader Paul Rosenmoeller for "demonising" Fortuyn before he was gunned down in May just before general elections.

"It wasn't only death threats to himself personally, but to his wife and children," Tom van der Lee, the party's campaign leader, told Reuters.

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