Wilders' lawyer accuses Prosecutor of abuse of power in hate speech trial

Geert Wilders
PVV founder Geert Wilders, as seen in 2006 (ANS-Online/Flickr)PVV founder Geert Wilders, as seen in 2006 (ANS-Online/Flickr)

The Public Prosecutor abused its power by charging Geert Wilders with hate speech, according to the PVV leader's lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops in court on Friday. According to the lawyer, the Prosecutor charged Wilders because he doesn't like Wilders' beliefs, not because theya re punishable, Telegraaf reporter Saskia Belleman tweets live from within the court room.

Wilders is facing various counts of hate-speech and inciting hatred and discrimination charges because of statements he made during a rally in The Hague in 2014. At one point he said that The Hague should be a city with fewer problems "and if possible fewer Moroccans". A few days later he asked a cafe full of people whether they want more or fewer Moroccans in the country, they responded by chanting "fewer, fewer, fewer". On Thursday the Public Prosecutor demanded a 5 thousand euro fine against the politician.

The Prosecutor made a serious miscalculation by starting a trial against feedom of expression, the lawyer said during the first day of his defense. He also accused the Prosecutor of making a mockery of freedom of speech. According to Knoops, the Prosecutor is trying to curtail Wilders in his job as a politician, simply because the Prosecutor does not agree with what he says. 

Knoops argued that Wilders did nothing more than participate in the debate in the run up to the European Parliament elections. One of his questions was about the European Union, the loaweyr said. By only focusing on the "fewer Moroccans" statement, the Prosecutor is trying to twist reality. 

According to the lawyer, Wilders was doing nothing more than talking about years of existing PVV policies. "Wilders gave the context seconds after he stepped down from the podium in an interview for TV cameras, but the Prosecutor disregarded that." He also pointed out that two months ago the Prosecutor examined that party positions of the PVV and decided that they were not punishable. As Wilders's tatements come directly from the party program, the outcome of this case has already been determined, according to the lawyer. "The Prosecutor said that the positions are not punishable. Point. End of story."

The lawyer also stated that reducing the number of Moroccans is currently government policy, and that Wilders' statements have nothing to do with veiled racism or intolerance. He went even further by accusing the Public Prosecutor of intolerance - by trying to silence a politician proclaiming an unwelcome concenpt. "The prosecution of Wilders symbolizes the decline of tolerance, which is the foundation of our democratic state", Knoops said. "That foundation is brought to serious risk through this process."