Lawyer: Hate speech-trial against Wilders undermines democracy

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The hate speech trial against PVV leader Geert Wilders over statements he made about "fewer Moroccans" during election campaigns in 2014, is impossible for a court to rule on, the PVV leader's lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops argued in the extra security court at Schiphol on Friday, NOS reports.

According to the lawyer, a ruling on the "fewer Moroccans" statements would in fact be a ruling on the PVV's election campaign and decision making process. For that reason alone, he argued, the lawsuit should be dropped immediately. He referred to the Anglo-Saxon law - conforming to the "political case doctrine", custom states that judges give no opinions on political issues, he said.

"Sensitive issues must be judged by public opinion or through the ballot box", Knoops said. According to him, the case against Wilders is a political process. "The judge as t rule on the kind of democracy the Netherlands should have. The Prosecutor is indirectly asking for a ruling over the functioning of the PVV and its political program. The court must not interfere with this."

Knoops continued that the judgement on Wilders' statements is in fact a judgement on the PVV's party program. "A program that is supported by nearly one million people."

As a politician, Wilders can say more than an ordinary citizen, Knoops said. According to him, Wilders used his statements to point out shortcomings in the Dutch state. "It his his duty to name shortcomings. He takes that responsibility and proposed solutions." According to Knoops, the prosecutor is limiting Wilders' freedom of speech by prosecuting him for his statements.