As H. Numan reported earlier this month, there have been new developments in the show trial against Geert Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV) in the Netherlands.
Since then there have been additional reports in the media about the improper involvement of the Minister of Justice in the case. The following material has been translated from RTL Nieuws:
Senior government officials demanded a hard approach in the trial against ‘malicious’ Wilders
Top officials of the Justice Department have been involved in the content of the criminal case against Geert Wilders. They urged the Public Prosecution Service (OM) to tackle Wilders as firmly as possible in the case of ‘fewer Moroccans’ statements.
The interference is very sensitive because it is a criminal case against an opposition leader. Until recently, the Justice department and the OM denied any form of substantive consultation and coordination on the Wilders case. The PVV leader reacts with astonishment to the new revelations and calls it ‘outrageous’.
The documents now show that officials fed the OM with arguments against Wilders, who was an opponent of the then-minister, VVD member Ivo Opstelten. They call his statements “malicious” and “racist.” When these officials read a very confidential official message from the Board of Procurators General to Minister Opstelten of 10 September 2014, one of them wondered: “Is the OM convinced of the desirability and feasibility of prosecution?”
No reason for criminal case
They advise the Public Prosecution Service to go into it legally. The reason for this is the discussion within the OM about the case. The Public Prosecutor in The Hague even wanted to dismiss the criminal case concerning the first ‘fewer Moroccans’ ruling on 12 March 2014, as it turned out last week, more than five years later. And the public prosecutor’s own experts, from the National Discrimination Expertise Center, also saw no good reason for a criminal case in the statements on the election evening of 19 March 2014. They found the statements ‘not unnecessarily offensive’.
The top officials thought that Wilders should not only be prosecuted for the election evening statements, but also had to be tackled for the first statement, because otherwise the whole ‘legally substantive’ case would not be sustainable.
“I would leave this to the judge and put as few restrictions as possible in what you submit to the judge.” The officials also provide a series of legal advice, including on how the Public Prosecutor should deal with the likely arguments of the defense. Literally: “I have already discussed a number of points with the colleague of the Pag [public prosecutor, the Public Prosecution Service, ed.] Today.” And: “I will pass on the points that you mention to the colleague of the OM.”
Wilders announces that he and his lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops will again ask the Court to stop the trial. The appeal will be served again on Tuesday. Wilders: “It is inconceivable that the Ministry of Justice has dealt with my case in detail. It’s a disgrace, a political reckoning by the VVD minister and his department.”
The PVV writes:
Wilders files a police report against public prosecutor and attorneys-general
Geert Wilders: “The Public Prosecution Office and all other stakeholders (civil servants and politicians) who have played a role in my political persecution had better prepare themselves for a series of police reports and procedures, criminal and possibly civil. Starting today with a report against a Public Prosecutor and two Attorneys-General for a serious suspicion of forgery of documents, in connection with the preparation of an official report, drawn up on the judicial oath, containing untruths.”
This afternoon [September 9] Wilders filed a report against Public Prosecutor Bos and Advocates General Van Roessel and Sta.
In an official report drawn up on the judicial oath, the Advocates General stated on 14 March 2018 that:
“The College also did not consult with representatives of the Ministry of (then) Security and Justice and the political office holders about the declaration process.”
In this official report reference is made to the official report of 12 March 2018 drawn up by the Public Prosecutor in which he states:
“There has also been no coordination on this with the Ministry of (then) Security and Justice and the political office-holders.”
Letter from the College of Procurators General dated November 28, 2018:
‘In addition to the aforementioned letter from the College, I inform you that in the meantime, following the answers to parliamentary questions posed by member Wilders (submitted November 12, 2018, reference 2018Z20755), it appears that a short note has been found from an employee of the prosecutor’s office. This note relates to regular periodic consultations between the then-Minister of Justice and Security and then-President of the College in April 2014, which includes: “Wilders — procedure discussed — 1000 declarations.” This note was therefore not included in the file that resides with the College and that has been searched through earlier to see whether the declaration process has been discussed with the College.’
In the answer to question 3 (received 30 November 2018), Minister Grapperhaus writes the following to the house of representatives:
“For the sake of completeness, I also mention a few other documents that were found during the searches described above concerning the case that fell outside the scope of the press questions asked by RTL news and the Wob-request. The Public Prosecution Office informed me that it had a short note concerning regular periodic consultations between the then Minister of Security and Justice and the then chairman of the College of 2 April 2014, which includes: ‘Wilders — procedure discussed — 1000 declarations’.”
The interrogation of former minister Opstelten on 11 February 2019 also shows that there was indeed consultation, he said the following about this:
(34) “You ask me if I can reconstruct the April 2 conversation. My memory is, that it was briefly discussed. The number of declarations, the state of affairs regarding the declaration situation, what was to come and that the Public Prosecution Office started to examine it thoroughly.”
(35) “You tell me that the note says that the procedure has been discussed. You ask me whether I can remember that it was also explained to me what the procedure would be, which declaration modality would be used. My memory does not go so far as to have a concrete reminder of how that was discussed. It was more about the state of affairs regarding the declaration. That the process went well, and how the prosecutor subsequently dealt with the assessment of all those declarations.”
The video below shows Geert Wilders’ speech in court on September 10: