Killer of far-right Dutch gay politician Pim Fortuyn to be freed early

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The man who shot dead far-right Dutch gay politician Pim Fortuyn is to be freed in May.

Volkert Van der Graaf, 44, is serving an 18-year sentence for the 2002 murder of Fortuyn.

The animal rights activist said he killed Fortuyn because he was worried about the way he stigmatised vulnerable groups, including Muslim immigrants and asylum seekers.

Van der Graaf “can be freed on parole from May 2,” junior Justice Minister Fred Teeven told journalists on Wednesday.

Mr Teeven rejected freeing Graaf in October last year as he still “posed a threat to public order.”

Van der Graaf is eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of his sentence and had asked the State to rule on his request to push forward his release date.

“All the advice and enquiries indicate the same thing, that there’s little chance of re-offending,” AAP reports Mr Teeven said.

On release Van der Graaf will have to report to authorities once a week and wear an electronic ankle tag. He will not be allowed to go to Rotterdam, the city where Fortuyn was a politician, or to Hilversum, where he was killed.

Fortuyn provoked controversy with his views about multiculturalism, immigration and Islam.

He called Islam “a backward culture”, and said that if it were legally possible he would close the borders for Muslim immigrants.

During his life, Fortuyn always rejected being labelled a far-right populist by the Dutch media.

Fortuyn was assassinated by Van der Graaf on 6 May 2002. The attack took place in a parking lot outside a radio studio where Fortuyn had just given an interview. This was nine days before the general election, for which he was running.

The assassination shocked many residents of the Netherlands and highlighted the cultural clashes within the country.

Officials warned last year that Van der Graaf’s early release could reopen old wounds, given the widespread public anger that followed Fortuyn’s assassination.