Witness recants testimony in Van Gogh case

A witness in the trial against 14 men in the Netherlands suspected of running a Muslim terrorist cell on Friday recanted earlier testimony that they knew of plans to murder filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004.

Earlier during the hearing, being conducted under the tightest security Holland has ever seen, the prosecutor said that the probe into Van Gogh’s murder by Mohammed Bouyeri was re-opened after this new testimony surfaced. Bouyeri is serving a life sentence for the killing,

The witness’s about-face is a blow to the prosecution, which has been struggling to connect the suspects of the so-called Hofstad group to plans for further attacks. Hofstad is a nickname for the city of The Hague where several of the accused were arrested.

The witness, Jamal Bakoer, had earlier told the police that another Muslim, Bilal Lamrani, who has been linked to the Hofstad group, told him that the alleged members of the group knew of Bouyeri’s plan to murder Van Gogh in November 2004.

Bouyeri, who is being tried a second time on separate charges of membership of a terrorist organization, has always stressed that he acted alone.

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