Court orders retrial of Dutch terror group

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The Supreme Court of the Netherlands has ordered a retrial of the Hofstad Group suspects who were accused of preparing terror attacks, but acquitted in 2008. Members of the group had connections with the murderer of Dutch Islam critic and filmmaker Theo van Gogh.

The public prosecutor had appealed against a verdict by a court in The Hague which had cleared the main suspect, Jason Walters and six accomplices of being members of a terrorist and criminal organisation. The Hague court had argued that the suspects' organisation was too loosely structured to merit the conviction. In addition the court said there was not sufficient evidence that the suspects were inciting hatred. These arguments were thrown out on Tuesday by the Supreme Court.

Narrow definition
The formal definition of a criminal terrorist organisation as used by the Hague court was too narrow, according to the Supreme Court. It was wrong to acquit the suspects only because their group did not meet the legal definition of what constitutes an organisation. The case has been referred to the Amsterdam court for a retrial.

Though acquitted on this count, main suspect Jason Walters was convicted on other charges, of attempting to murder police officers and of possessing hand grenades. Three police officers were injured in a raid on his apartment in November 2004 in The Hague and a 14-hour siege ensued. He is serving a 15-year sentence.

The Hofstad Group, so named by the intelligence service after the nickname of The Hague, consists of a group of radical islamic Dutch youths of North-African origin. The group was dismantled after the murder of Theo van Gogh in 2004. The group regularly met at the home of Van Gogh's killer, Mohammed Bouyeri.

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