Fortuyn suspect on murder charge

May 9, 2002 Posted: 1039 GMT

Van der Graaf is seen during a 1998 environmental group meeting
Van der Graaf is seen during a 1998 environmental group meeting  

Police have not established a motive for the crime, and there is no obvious link between the suspect's activism and the shooting of Fortuyn, who was praised by environmental groups for his policies.

Fortuyn had taken Dutch politics by storm with an anti-immigration stance that had seen his newly-formed party win 35 percent of the vote in Rotterdam local elections.

He was predicted to secure around 15 percent in the May 15 general election -- which would translate into about 25 parliamentary seats.

Van der Graaf was arrested shortly after Fortuyn was gunned down in a car park on Monday.

Prosecution spokesman Robert Muellenbroek told Reuters: "The suspect has been charged with murder and illegal possession of firearms."

Although Fortuyn's views were abhorred by many, his killing has equally outraged the Netherlands.

His body will lie in a cathedral on Thursday for public viewing, the Dutch Catholic church said on Wednesday.

Funerals of even high officials in the Netherlands are often private affairs, but the family of the flamboyantly gay Fortuyn, who held no public office, requested the unusual arrangements in Rotterdam cathedral.

"This (viewing of the body) is unique here in Holland, it's not usual. The family asked for it," church spokesman Peter van Zoest told Reuters news agency.

The last time a body lay in state in the Netherlands was in 1962 when Queen Wilhelmina died. There are rarely special funeral arrangements for high public officials.

mourners
Rotterdam mourners remember Fortuyn  

The cathedral in Rotterdam -- Fortuyn's home city -- will also host his funeral on Friday after a procession that winds through the city's streets.

After the church ceremony, Fortuyn's coffin will be taken to the family grave at an undisclosed location in the Netherlands, but that burial is expected to be temporary.

An Italian friend of Fortuyn said a second funeral is to be held in northeast Italy, where the body will be buried, Reuters said.

Mourners have laid wreaths at the spot where he was shot, outside a radio station at Hilversum, 20 kilometres (12 miles) south-east of Amsterdam, and have queued to sign a book of condolence at his home in Rotterdam

Rotterdam mayor Ivo Opstelten led an estimated 15,000 people in a silent march through the city on Tuesday evening, as Fortuyn supporters and opponents gathered to wave banners and Dutch flags.

arrest
Dutch police arrest Van der Graaf shortly after Pim Fortuyn was shot  

"I'm no supporter of Pim Fortuyn, but I think everybody should have the right to speak," marcher Jan Knierien, 37, director of an Internet company, told Reuters news agency.

Politicians have condemned the killing but have decided to press ahead with the general election with Prime Minister Wim Kok calling the vote an "important signal that democracy functions and continues to function."

CNN's European Political Editor Robin Oakley said Fortuyn's party would want the election to go ahead as soon as possible to take advantage of an expected sympathy vote.

But he questioned how long the party, which only emerged earlier this year, would survive without Fortuyn.