Wilders hate speech trial starts today
The criminal trial against PVV leader Geert Wilders starts in the high security court at Schiphol today. Wilders is facing various forms of hate speech charges over statements he made about Moroccans while campaigning in The Hague in 2014. The PVV leader already announced that he will not be attending the trial, calling it a "political process" that should be held in parliament not in court.
The charges against Wilders surrounds statements he made in The Hague during an electionc campaign on March 12th and 19th, 2014. In an interview he gave on the market he said: "Most important is surely the people here on the market (...) We are doing it for these people. They vote for a safer and more social and at least a city with fewer burdens and if possoible some fewer Moroccans."
Then a few days later, in a PVV meeting at a cafe in the city, Wilders said: "I ask you, do you want in this city and in the Netherlands more or fewer Moroccans?" The crowd in the cafe responded by chanting "fewer, fewer, fewer" and Wilders said: "Then we will arrange it."
The fight between Wilders' lawyers and the Public Prosecutor will focus primarily on whether the PVV leader made these statements in a certain context, according to NOS. In other words - was Wilders speaking about all Moroccans, or a limited group such as criminals.
The Prosecutor accuses Wilders of insulting a group of the population and inciting hatred and discrimination with both statements. What makes Wilders statements different from statements by other politicians, according to the Prosecutor, is the context in which the statements were made, or lack thereof in this case.
After the "fewer Moroccans" incident in the Hague cafe, Wilders stated that he obviously only meant Moroccans that cause nuisance. But this statement was only made afterwards and was completely absent during the interview the previous week. According to the Prosecutor, that crosses the line of criminality - Wilders lumped all Moroccan-Dutch together with these statements.
Wilders' lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops will try to convince the judges that Wilders made these statements in a particular context.
The trial is expected to take 12 days, spread over three weeks. If found guilty, Wilders could face prison time. But it is more likely that he will rather be fined or given community service.