Wilders' lawyer accuses judge of bias at recusal hearing
Judge Elianne van Rens was rude and biased towards expert witness for the defense Paul Cliteur on Thursday in the hate speech trial against Geert Wilders, the PVV leaders' lawyer Gert-Jan Knoops said on Friday. She therefore has to be removed from the case, the lawyer defended his recusal request, the Volkskrant reports.
Wilders is facing various counts of hate speech charges because of statements he made about wanting "fewer Moroccans" in the Netherlands while campaigning in The Hague in March 2014. On Friday his lawyer announced a recusal request against judge Van Rense following the questioning of expert witness Paul Cliteur. According to Knoops, Van Rens showed clear bias during this questioning.
During questioning Van Rens interuppted witness Cliteur in a blunt way, Knoops said. She also used the word "very" twice during this questioning - instead of saying "strict" she said "very strict", according to the lawyer. "There can be no doubt. This is not the appearance of bias, this is simply bias."
Judge Van Rens is not present at the hearing in the recusal chamer, but she did give a written response to the recusal request. She wants to stay on the case. She believes that she "set critical questions, just like in other cases". She admitted that she erred during the second day of trial when she "accidentally" said that politician Delano Felter was convicted for inciting intolerance, while this was not the case.
The Public Prosecutor wants the trial to continue with the judges already appointed. Prosecutor Wouter Bos said he knew this recusal was coming. According to Bos, Wilders already asked Van Rens to remove herself from the trial in March. That request was denied and Wilders accepted it, Bos said. According to him, Van Rens made no mistakes.