Recusal request denied in Wilders hate speech trial

Judge Elianne van Rens will remain on the hate speech trial against PVV leader Geert Wilders. On Friday the court rejected the recusal request Wilders' lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops filed against her, the Volkskrant reports. 

Knoops accused Van Rens of being biased and rude to the defense's expert witness Paul Cliteur in court on Thursday. According to the lawyer, Van Rens interrupted Cliteur in a blunt manner while he was being questioned. And twice she used the adjective "very", as in she said "very strict" instead of just strict. "There can be no doubt. This is not the appearance of bias, this is simply bias", the lawyer said.

But according to the recusal chamber, bias could not be proven. "Judge Van rense indeed made a mistake. But that can happen, it also happens to judges", the court ruled. Van Rens can therefore stay part of the trial. About the questioning of Cliteur, the court said it is better that a judge takes an active attitude rather than having to place every word on the balance scales. 

Knoops is disappointed in the ruling, he said to the Volkskrant on Friday. "We are considering. Everying is a possibility also the question of whether it is worth while to continue." Wilders responded on Twitter: "Scandalous decision by the court. Chance of a fair trial now completely gone. We - Mr. Knoops and I - will consider."

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. 

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