As our Dutch correspondent H. Numan reported yesterday, the case against Geert Wilders has diverted itself into testimony about the apparent attempt by one of the judges to influence a witness just before Mr. Wilders’ earlier trial.
Last night the case diverted itself even further, this time into the TV studio of a popular news/discussion program called “Pauw and Witteman”. I’ll let H. Numan explain the extraordinary events that unfolded for the television audience:
This is a very popular left wing program. Pauw and Witteman are two prominent preachers for the Left-Wing Church, hosted by the VARA (socialist) TV station.
They invited Bert Hendriks, one of yesterday’s witnesses who contradicted the testimony of Prof. Hans Jansen, to give his opinion about the current Wilders trial. While he was saying that Schalken didn’t carry the court decision, Mr. Pauw interrupted him. “Witteman and myself carry ‘ears’ to be in contact with the redaction team. Now they have a phone call from Mr. Bram Moszkowicz, who wanted to comment on Mr. Hendriks’ words.”
Once he got the word, Moszkowicz started off by saying: “I won’t say again that Mr. Hendriks is a liar, because I already did so in court. But he is once again making false statements on your program. He just said that Schalken did not carry the court decision, which Mr. Schalken already has admitted he did, under oath. With a little bit of assistance from me. As about a million people are watching this, I wanted that fact to be known too, just for the record.
(public laughing out loud)
After that, they talked a bit about Hans Jansen, he was supposed to have done the same: you see Jansen saying for the camera ‘My opinion was not influenced’. That can be explained in two ways:
1. The dinner guests tried to, but failed. 2. They didn’t try to influence him.
After that scene Pauw asked: “Would you like to say something to Mr. Hendriks?”
Moszkowicz: “No, I wouldn’t.” Hangs up the phone.
This was absolutely brilliant. Almost certainly it was a first in Dutch legal history. I don’t think it has ever happened before that a witness in a current court case has been interviewed on TV, and never before has the lawyer for the defendant called directly into the TV studio to demand that rectification to the claims must be made. (He didn’t demand it, but actually said so himself.)
Hendriks is a very dangerous witness, in the sense that he won’t be easily cornered. He is regularly on TV as a Middle East expert, knows what questions are going to be asked, and knows how to handle them. That is why he was sitting back relaxed and smiling. And also why he was far leas easily cowed than Mr. Schalken had been on the witness stand.
No matter what happens now, I think Mr. Schalken’s credibility is damaged beyond repair. According to what I heard, he was not doing very well in the stand.
He is mainly a professor of law, and as such also a judge. In his first function, as professor of law he wrote the court decision as a kind of legal exercise for his students. He admitted so himself, albeit indirectly. That finished his credibility both as a professor and as a magistrate of the court.
This isn’t an unusual interesting legal problem for his students to solve. This is a real case, with a real verdict, on which important principles of our society will come to rest.