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Fortuyn's killer to appeal

Van der Graaf
Van der Graaf is said to have shown little remorse for the killing.

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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- Lawyers for the convicted killer of populist politician Pim Fortuyn are to launch an appeal against their client's 18 year sentence.

The defense for Volkert van der Graaf argues that negative comments made by politicians in the run-up to the verdict were prejudicial.

They also plan to complain about the conditions Van der Graaf was held in while awaiting trial -- included camera surveillance in his cell.

Last week it was announced that the public prosecutor was to appeal against the sentence also, saying the 33-year-old animal rights activist should have been given a life sentence.

The appeal is likely to be heard in August, prosecutors told Reuters news agency.

Prosecutors say the Amsterdam judge who handed down the sentence has received a death threat for failing to impose a life jail term.

Van der Graaf was sentenced earlier this month after admitting shooting dead Fortuyn at point blank range in the carpark of a television center.

The killing came days before the country went to the polls and a wave of public support swept Fortuyn's novice party into a coalition government.

Fortuyn, 54, argued that Islam was "backward" in its approach to homosexuals and women. He also campaigned on an anti-immigration ticket.

The killing of Fortuyn thrust his party into power.
The killing of Fortuyn thrust his party into power.

His party, the Pim Fortuyn List, lost its share of public support in elections held this year.

Although Van der Graaf admitted the killing he showed little remorse, saying he was still not sure whether he had done the right thing.

Prosecutors had called for a life sentence, but presiding judge Frans Bauduin said it would be inappropriate, because Van der Graaf had no previous criminal record and was unlikely to kill again.

Under Dutch law, Van der Graaf must serve at least two-thirds of his sentence, meaning he could be released in 2014.

A life sentence is the stiffest penalty in the Netherlands, where capital punishment was abolished in the 19th Century.

A psychiatric report read in court during the trial said Van der Graaf had an uncompromising, obsessive-compulsive personality but who was sane and could be held accountable for his actions.

It said he was a highly intelligent, emotionally uncommunicative perfectionist, intolerant of those with different values to his own and committed to pursuing his principles to the bitter end.

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