AMSTERDAM – A Dutch criminal justice agency has ruled that the animal rights activist who assassinated populist politician Pim Fortuyn days before the country's 2002 national elections is eligible for early parole.
Volkert van der Graaf was sentenced to 18 years for shooting Fortuyn dead. Fortuyn founded his own party and skyrocketed to popularity on an anti-immigration platform that broke radically with establishment views. His killing, arguably the first assassination the country has seen since 1672, deeply shocked the Dutch.
At trial, Van der Graaf claimed he saw Fortuyn as a "danger to society." At the time of his conviction, 20 years was widely regarded as the harshest possible sentence for a criminal who is not insane. The justice ministry has resisted early release for the 44-year-old Van der Graaf.