Tags: Leader | Dutch | Right | Assassinated

Leader of Dutch Right Assassinated

Monday, 06 May 2002 12:00 AM

A spokesman for the Dutch Interior Ministry told United Press International that the election was now in doubt.

Acting Prime Minister Wim Kok was to hold an extraordinary cabinet meeting Monday at 10:30 p.m. GMT to discuss the government's response to the shooting. Kok also plans to meet with party leaders in the Hague Tuesday to decide whether to postpone the election.

Fortuyn was shot in the head, neck and chest as he left a radio interview in Hilversum, a dozen miles from the capital, Amsterdam.

Eyewitnesses said the 54-year-old politician's body was taken away in a bloodstained white sheet after receiving urgent medical attention from paramedics.

Dutch police have confirmed they have arrested a suspect for the killing, but have not released details.

The openly homosexual former sociology professor was not short of enemies. He recently enraged many of the Netherlands' 3 million immigrants and the mainstream political parties after he described Muslim culture as "backward."

Fortuyn's newly formed party, Lijst Pim Fortuyn, has fought an election campaign centered on halting immigration and clamping down on violent crime.

The party's platform appeared to be gaining support among voters disenchanted with eight years of center-left rule. In March, the party won over a third of the votes in the Netherlands' second-largest city of Rotterdam.

Polls predicted that Fortuyn was on course to gain 20 percent of the votes in next week's general election and was a possible partner in a center-right coalition with Liberals and Christian Democrats.

The existence of the party is now uncertain, analysts say.

It is the first time in Dutch history that a major political figure has been assassinated. Dutch Labor Party leader Ad Melkert described the shooting as a "low point for our democracy" and said, "These are things you thought were just not possible in the Netherlands."

Kok also expressed his disgust at the killing. "This is deeply tragic, first of all for him and for all his loved ones. It is also deeply tragic for our democracy," said Kok, whose government resigned last month over allegations Dutch "peacekeepers" failed to prevent a massacre of Bosnian Muslims in 1995.

Dutch Liberal Euro Parliament Member Lousewies van der Laan told UPI the killer would have the "same effect on the Netherlands that the Sept. 11 bombings had on the United States. There is a dawning realization that we are not immune to the horrors of the rest of the world.

"We have lost our innocence," she added.

A rally of young Socialists due to be attended by Melkert and British Prime Minister Tony Blair today in Fortuyn's hometown of Rotterdam has been cancelled because of the killing, a Labor Party spokesman said. The source said the country was "in shock at the terrible news." Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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A spokesman for the Dutch Interior Ministry told United Press International that the election was now in doubt. Acting Prime Minister Wim Kok was to hold an extraordinary cabinet meeting Monday at 10:30 p.m. GMT to discuss the government's response to the shooting. Kok...
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2002-00-06
Monday, 06 May 2002 12:00 AM
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