Justice dossier assassination Van Gogh
Dozen witnesses have delivered statements about the murder on Theo van Gogh. Here a reconstruction based on the police file.
Rotterdam, 8 January. "I know him", thought an English witness on November the second when he looked out of the window of his house on the Linnaeusstraat in Amsterdam. He had seen this man, who just shot Theo van Gogh, before, he told the police shortly after the murder. He had seen him three weeks earlier, when he was walking with his dog in the nearby Oosterpark.
On the corner near the shop "De Sleutelkoning" he had seen a Moroccan young man. A week later he saw the man standing there again on the same spot. The man wore the same cloths as at the time of the murder: a coat over a traditional Islamic dress and a small woolen cap. "He really attracted attention in that appearance", the witness declared. "When I looked out of the window, after I heard the shots, I recognized him directly".
It was busy when on the Linnaeusstraat on quarter to nine, when suspect Mohammed B. [*1] on his bike caught up with Theo van Gogh and from a close range opened fire on him.
In the police file are dozens of reports of eyewitnesses. They tell how B. followed, the wounded Theo van Gogh, on foot until they where on the other side of the road. How he shot again the now lying filmmaker. How he tried to decapitate the director with a big cap knife. How he pierced the cap knife and an other knife with a note attached in his body. How he calmly walked away to the Oosterpark when people in the Linnaeustraat panicked.
Some bystanders fled from fear. Others where nailed to the ground and saw how the culprit cleaned is hand with a bit of cloth and reloaded his gun with a new clip. At that time the thirty-year-old man who stepped out of the tram was already shot in his leg and a pedestrian was shot in her heel.
In the statements are contradictions.
Although Mohammed B. had shaved his head bold, one of the witnesses described the man who walked away as someone with "quite long dark hair". The reported number of shots, the culprit fired varies a lot. Some witnesses describe how the culprit kicked the lying Theo van Gogh in the side, after which he shot again. Others turn that around, he shot first then kicked.
But still do the statements deliver a reasonable consistent view on the murder, from the moment Mohammed B. catches up with the bicycling Van Gogh on the Linnaeusstraat until his capture on the Mauritskade on the other side of the Oosterpark.
There is one red line: nearly all witnesses where amazed by the unusually rest and control Mohammed B. showed.
"What I noticed was how calm and controlled the culprit was. It was chilling", says the British witness against the police. An other witness describes how Mohammed B. puts an enormous knife on the throat of Van Gogh en on a "calm and controlled way cutting movements" made. "It seemed if he was cutting of a slice of roast beef".
Different witnesses stated how Mohammed B. after the murder talked to a bystander who looked mesmerized when the shooter crosses the street in his direction. "What are you looking at?" says B. to the man, when he calmly refills his clip with new bullets, holding his gun under his arm.
"You can not do that?", says the bystander. "Why not?", answers B.: "He asked for it".
The bewildered by stander repeated his remark: "You can not do that?" "Yes I can", says B. "And now you know what is waiting for you all".
Moments later a police officer sees how B. quietly walks in the park with his hands in his pockets, "As if he was walking his dog". Because "there are woman and children in the park" the police decided not to arrest him but to pursue him. Only then Mohammed B. starts running in the direction of the Mauritskade, where a number of police officers block his way. An unmarked police car approaches zigzagging and close behind it a police van that is officially of the police dog brigades. Meanwhile an accidentally passing lorry driver turns his lorry and drives in on B., as he says in his own words: "too give him a small pad", but it is in vain. Several officers describe how B. now with two hands on his gun stands still and aims his gun at them. "Very quite and certain" says a policewoman. The police gets the full clip. One officer wearing a bulletproof vest is shot in the chest. An other bullet hits with a bang the police van. "Duck!", shouts the driver of the van and crawls under the dashboard. But he then realizes that he now is even a bigger shooting target and together with his partner he jumps out of the van and shoots at Mohammed B. who is standing on a distance of seven meters. He aimed at the legs of the suspect. "I wanted to shoot fast and granted myself no time to use the aiming device". The officer sees how B. tries to walk a way and falls down. The officer kicks the empty gun away and steps on the feeds of B. A police officer comes from his hiding position behind the now stationary lorry and handcuffs B. "In my leg", hears a officer say B. He sees the blood flowing.
The arrest was a setback for B. According to his will that he put on rhyme and carried with him it showed that he expected to die as a martyr in the fire fight with the police. It looks like Mohammed B. was quietly and definitely executed his plan. If the British witness indeed saw the 26 year Moroccan earlier, then murder was prepared weeks in advanced [*2]. Possibly others help him. Several witnesses state to have seen people who where possibly accomplices. A Turkish woman sees short before the attack, around 8.30, two suspicious Moroccan young man waiting, with the bicycles in their hands, in front of the town office. The woman sees "In front of the breast" of one of the two man "a handle sticking out", as if the man "has a big knife under his coat". The men look "some what suspicious around them" and "clearly belonged together" according to the Turkish woman. An other witness sees after the murder two traditional clothed Islamic young men with "striking flax beards" looking at the body of Theo van Gogh from the parking space at the town office. They speak with each other, call with a mobile phone and then walk away. Also other witnesses who reacted on the television showing of the picture of Mohammed B. have declared seeing suspicious men in the vicinity of the crime scene, say sources involved in the investigation.
After his arrest, Mohammed B. is brought to the VU hospital, where his leg wound is treated. Just before eleven he is brought up to the prosecutor. Later that day he uses the right to remain silent, a silence he has not broke since. In the VU hospital however he made a few self-incriminating statements. "I had one firearm and a knife with me", says B. according to the warrant. "The knife I left on the first place. The firearm I left on the place where I was shot down. I came out of the Oosterpark and gone left to the Mauritkade. I was near a publicity sign.
The following morning the first and only interrogation takes place in the Scheveningse prison with his layer Peter R. Plasman present. B is lying is his bed with an catheter to his arm, "Well", he says to the inspectors "I use my right to silence". He does not even wanted to confirm his identity he gave the other day. "Your are not mouth is not wounded", tries a detective. He asks about his address and motive for his action. "Did you know who you pierced? What are you thinking now? May I call you Mohammed?" Lawyer Plasman interfered and said, "I have discussed with my client that when he moment comes he wants to explain, that I will let you know immediately". "Is it possible he answers for him selves?" the inspector asks. That turns out not to be the case. The inspectors keep trying for a little while. "Do you take part in the Ramadan?" Silence. "How far where you willing to go?" B. stays silent. And the Ramadan? "It is a social question. For inter personal contact as we like to call that". Inspector: "Or are you not very well in communication?". Plasman: "At this moment my client is not so very good at communication".
Plasman does not want to comment on the witness testimonies, neither does the justice office.
During the autopsy it was discovered that Theo van Gogh was transpierced seven times. In his fuselage he had two stabbing wounds, in his throat "at least two deep cuts to the spine. Except for "extensive damage" to bowels, kidney, liver and milt, also both his lounges where perforated. Both the shot wounds and knife-inflicted wounds could have caused his dead, the autopsy report observes.
*1) Mohammed Bouyeri, Dutch media does self sensor the last name of terrorist.
*2) Most likely in a period that he was still under surveillance of the AIVD. It was reported earlier that the AIVD had him under surveillance 2 weeks prior to the assassination.
Source: NRC, Intel-weblog