25-year prison sentence for terrorist attack

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Amsterdam, 17 november 2020

A 21-year-old man has been sentenced on appeal to a 25-year prison term for committing a terrorist attack in Amsterdam. The Amsterdam Court of Appeal passed down this judgement on 16 November 2020. The Public Prosecution Service had demanded the highest possible sentence, namely a prison term of more than 26 years, which was the sentence imposed earlier by the lower court.

Stabbing at Amsterdam Central Station

The man, a refugee from Afghanistan, stabbed two unsuspecting American tourists with a large carving knife in the West Tunnel of Amsterdam Central Station at the end of August 2018. He had travelled from his place of residence in Germany to Amsterdam Central Station in the Netherlands to cause fatalities with a knife that he had purchased specially for that purpose. The reason for this was a cartoon competition involving the Prophet Mohammed that Geert Wilders had organised.

The Court of Appeal referred to this as a cowardly attack. Further fatalities were avoided by the lightning speed with which the police intervened. The man was incapacitated within ten seconds by two police bullets.


The victims survived the stabbing. They were able to follow the criminal case from the US by means of a live-stream connection. Both victims suffered damage to nerves because of the stabbing, which for one of them means that he will probably never be able to walk normally again. The victims experience psychological complaints daily because of the attack. The events have also made a lasting impression on two police officers, as was apparent from their statements to the lower court and the Court of Appeal.

Long prison sentence

Terrorist attacks fill society with horror. They cause considerable unrest and feelings of insecurity, and entirely innocent victims are sacrificed to achieve a so-called higher purpose. It is therefore befitting that the perpetrators of such crimes are punished with very long prison sentences, partly to ensure that others do not commit similar crimes.

Only during the proceedings did the man say that he regretted his acts. The Court of Appeal was not impressed by this and regarded it as a ploy to obtain a lower sentence. The fact that the Court of Appeal nevertheless imposed a slightly lower sentence than the lower court had imposed, and the Public Prosecution Service had demanded, is due to sentences that have been imposed in similar cases. The man’s young age also contributed to this. In addition, in contrast to the lower court, he was acquitted of threatening the police officers involved.

High amount in damages

The man is required to pay the victims an amount in compensation totalling almost €3 million. The victim most seriously affected has had to incur numerous medical expenses and has suffered a loss of income. The Court of Appeal has decided that the victims should receive a total of almost €250,000 in compensation for their pain and suffering.