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Netherlands terror prosecutions rarely result in convictions: report

[JURIST] Of 113 terrorism cases in the Netherlands [JURIST news archive] between September 11, 2001 and 2008, only 27 have led to convictions according to a report [NRC report] Thursday in the NRC Handelsblad [media website]. The report states that some of those convictions have been overturned on appeal. The conviction rate for terror crimes, which are prosecuted under the 2004 Crimes of Terror Act [text, DOC] is much lower than that of other crimes. The report also revealed that it is likely that at least two-thirds of those arrested on terror charges in the Netherlands are never prosecuted. The Dutch Public Prosecutors Office responded that the primary goal in terror investigations is to prevent an attack so the government must act quickly, while in other situations it has time to wait and gather evidence. In May, it was reported [BBC report] that of all those arrested on terror charges in the UK since 2001, 56 percent were never charged with a crime, and just under 13 percent were convicted. A report from the US State Department [official website] released last week revealed [text] that of 257 terror cases it had tracked in the US since 2001, 160 had been resolved by the end of 2007 and 145 of those had ended in guilty pleas or convictions.

The Netherlands has not experienced a large-scale terrorist attack. In October, a court of appeals extended the prison sentence [JURIST report] of a group of Dutch terrorists who were convicted [JURIST report] in 2006 of planning to attack Dutch politicians and government facilities. Ringleader Samir Azzouz was acquitted in 2005 of participating in a terrorist conspiracy [JURIST report]. The acquittal was met with public outcry, and Dutch legislators adopted more stringent anti-terror measures [JURIST report]. Last January, Dutch Parliamentarians demanded more reforms [JURIST report] to anti-terror laws after the Hague Appeals Court overturned [JURIST report] the convictions of a group seven men accused of being in a terrorist network. Included in that group was Mohammed Bouyeri, who confessed [JURIST report] to the 2004 killing of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh.

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