Judge to stay on hate speech trial appeal despite Wilders' objections
The chairman of The Hague Court of Justice, Jeanne Gaakeer, will not withdraw from the hate speech appeal trial against PVV leader Geert Wilders, she announced in court on Thursday. Wilders asked her to step down on Wednesday, after raising doubts about her impartiality on Tuesday. The PVV leader will also not take the matter further, the Volkskrant reports.
Gaakeer is the chairman of a foundation that awarded a prize for a student thesis written about undocumented migrants. "As jury chairman, you praised her for her involvement with undocumented migrants", Wilders said on Tuesday. "Are you the right person to judge me?" According to Wilders, the student involved is a left-wing activist whose political ideals is completely different than his.
On Thursday Gaakeer responded that she will not withdraw. She previously stated that she does not know the student involved or anything about her background, and only saw her when the prize was awarded.
Wilders announced that he will not try to force Gaakeer to withdraw from his trial, because he considers it "legally chanceless".
This case against Wilders revolves around statements he made while campaigning in The Hague in 2014. He said that The Hague should be a city with fewer problems, and "if possible, fewer Moroccans". He also asked a cafe full of people whether they want more or fewer Moroccans in The Hague, to which his followers responded by chanting "fewer, fewer, fewer". Wilders then said he would arrange that. On December 9th last year Wilders was convicted of insulting a group of people and inciting discrimination. The court decided not to impose a punishment on him. Both Wilders and the Public Prosecutor appealed.
The hearings in the hate speech appeal trial held this week, were only pro-forma hearings - during which the Public Prosecutor and Wilders' lawyer could explain exactly why they appealed against the court's initial verdict, and make their investigation demands. The substantive trial is scheduled to start on May 17th, 2018, though Wilders want to postpone it until the autumn of next year, according to the Volkskrant.