A radical Muslim defendant on trial in the killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh confessed Tuesday, saying he was driven by religious conviction. "I don't feel your pain," he told the victim's mother.
Mohammed Bouyeri, 27, stunned the courtroom in the final minutes of his two-day trial when he declared: "If I were released and would have the chance to do it again . . . I would do exactly the same thing."
"What moved me to do what I did was purely my faith. . . . I was motivated by the law that commands me to cut off the head of anyone who insults Allah and his prophet," he said.
Bouyeri faces life imprisonment in the Nov. 2 killing of van Gogh, who was shot, stabbed and nearly beheaded on an Amsterdam street.
The killing is believed to have been an act of retribution for van Gogh's film "Submission," which criticized the treatment of women in Muslim societies. The killer left a five-page note fixed to the filmmaker's body, along with a knife.
The killing of van Gogh, a distant relative of the painter Vincent van Gogh, led to a wave of retaliatory attacks on mosques in a country once renowned for tolerance.
It also led to an intense national debate over the integration of Muslims, who make up 6 percent of the Netherlands' 16 million people. Bouyeri was born in Amsterdam to Moroccan parents.
His statement in court Tuesday was his first public comment since he was arrested in a shootout with police after the slaying. Bouyeri had not mounted a defense during the trial and ordered his lawyer not to speak.