Dutch politician honored at funeral; party apparently gathering
Saturday, May 11, 2002
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- Tens of thousands of mourners threw flowers, wept and chanted the name of Pim Fortuyn on Friday as the body of the slain politician was driven in a hearse to his funeral.
The peal of church bells in Rotterdam was drowned out as crowds roared when Fortuyn's remains were carried out of the 16th-century Laurentius and Elisabeth Cathedral after a Roman Catholic Mass broadcast on television.
The atmosphere of the procession was at times more like a sporting event or a mass protest than a solemn funeral cortege, with thousands of people raising their hands in the air, chanting "Pim Fortuyn, Pim Fortuyn," and singing "You'll Never Walk Alone," a support song for the Rotterdam soccer team.
The outpouring of public sentiment could effect voters next week in elections for a new government. Before his death, Fortuyn's populist, anti-immigration party ranked among the top three parties, and seemed to have gathered strength since his assassination on Monday.
Meanwhile in Amsterdam, prosecutors indicated Fortuyn's suspected killer may have been plotting against three other members of his anti-immigration party.
The names of the party members and maps of their neighborhoods were found in the suspect's car, said a spokeswoman for the pubic prosecutor. The identities of the targeted members were not released.
Though the suspect's name has not been officially released, he has been identified by former colleagues as Volkert van der Graaf, an environmental and animal rights activist.