Geert Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV) in the Netherlands, is facing a third “hate speech” trial sometime next year. His “offense” was to ask his supporters whether they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands.
Below is a translated article and interview with Mr. Wilders from the print edition of today’s De Telegraaf.
Wilders awaits unfair trial
by Wouter de Winther and Ruud Mikkers
The Hague – PVV leader Geert Wilders awaits an unfair trial if he stands trial next year for stating that he wants “fewer Moroccans”. That is what his lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops says.
The lawyer is upset about the fact that the judge has allocated only 1 percent of the investigation requests of Wilders’ defense. “These include doing further research by experts. The defense has serious concerns about whether Mr. Wilders in his criminal case can adequately defend himself,” Knoops says in a statement.
“When all reasonable requests are rejected, they apparently want to convict me at all costs,” the PVV leader concludes. Wilders is expected to appear in court sometime in 2016.
“A correct picture of the context of the alleged statements of Mr. Wilders is essential,” says Knoops. “In order to present this picture to the judge, Wilders should get the chance to have the investigation he has asked for.” The lawyer says that Wilders is seriously harmed in his defense. “This way, Mr. Wilders does not get a fair trial.”
“The verdict seems to be ready’
PVV leader Wilders feels provoked. He says he will not get a fair chance to defend himself in the trial in which he is being sued for group insult and incitement to hatred and discrimination. Almost all his requests to call experts or to examine whether the declarations against him have been tampered with have been dismissed. He has appealed, because this way the chance of a fair trial would be reduced to nil.
What are the indications that suggest that you will not get a fair chance at a defense?
“I notice that the judicial authorities get more intransigent as we rise in the polls. At the first meetings, the magistrate still said to me, ‘You are entitled to a fair chance, the law will be interpreted broadly.’ But the opposite has happened. The magistrate uncritically follows the prosecutor. If all reasonable requests are rejected, then they apparently want to convict me at all costs.”
Why would Lady Justice suddenly take off her blindfold for Geert Wilders?
“For months, we have been working on the defense and therefore you suggest that further investigations be conducted. For example, about government ministers who already declared me guilty before the trial had begun, such as [Justice Minister] Opstelten. And we also want to know what has happened with all the pre-printed complaint forms. We have discovered that various forms have same signatures on them! We also want to hear experts, for example about the accusations of racism. A nationality is not a race, so how can I be guilty of racism? I am convinced that if today I ask “Do you want more or fewer Syrians,” no one would take offense at that, let alone that there would be complaints would be filed.”
But then we are dealing with refugees without a residence permit. Not Dutch citizens who have already been here for thirty or forty years.
“Yes, but I’m talking about the concept of nationality versus race. That is what everyone objected to, while I think that would now no longer be the case. If I would ask, ‘Do you want more or fewer Belgians, I do not believe that many people would feel offended. I want to hear the opinion of experts about this. I want to defend myself, but I must also be able to defend myself. The frustrating thing is that we have made 39 requests and zero have been granted. One of them has been kept in deliberation.”
During your previous trial, you made serious and less serious requests, you asked to hear Gaddafi or invite the Iranian president as a witness. What requests did you make this time?