Netherlands: 44% of terrorism suspects charged, 13% convicted

Netherlands: 44% of terrorism suspects charged, 13% convicted

Another 16% were not yet convicted or acquitted.


Not even a quarter of the total number of suspects arrested for terrorism in the Netherlands since September 11, 2001 were in the end convicted for it, according to data from the Public Prosecution and an inventory by NRC Handlesblad.

Terrorism cases deviate from the common image.  Of the about 260,000 criminal cases that the prosecution starts every year, about half get to a judge, who passes sentence in more than 90% of all cases.

Since 2004 terrorism offenses are a separate criminal offense.  At the end of 2008 the prosecution was handling 113 terrorism cases.  But only in 27 cases did it lead to punishment for a terrorist offense.

The prosecution counted the sentences by the court of the first instance.  In appeal, they sometimes even got to acquittal, such as in the process against the Hofstad group, where 7 of the 9 suspects were finally acquitted.
The data from the prosecution only gives the total number of cases (registered under a prosecution number).  How many people are arrested, the prosecution doesn't know precisely.  Suspects who are freed after several hours are sometimes not registered.  Some suspects are arrested multiple times.

An inventory by this newspaper, based on media accounts and talks with lawyers and former suspects, produced the same result.  Since 2001, as far as this newspaper could conclude, at least 156 people were arrested in connection to Islamic terrorism. Of those barely 20 were definitively convicted.  22 suspects were freed.  Almost two thirds of those arrested (88) were freed before it got to a court case.

A spokesperson for the National Public Prosecutor's Office, which is charged with handling terrorism cases, emphasizes in their response the special character of terrorism cases.  "In regular cases you first calmly collect the evidence. In terrorism, you don't have the time.  The focus is on the prevention of a possible attack".

Source: NRC Handlesblad (Dutch), h/t Allochtonen Weblog

See also: UK: 35% of terrorism suspects charged, 7% convicted

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