Wilders wants hate-speech appeal postponed after D66 leader's controversial Russian remark

Wilders, Buma and Pechtold during the debate

Geert Wilders and his lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops want the appeal in the hate speech trial against the PVV leader postponed until after the Public Prosecutor decided what to do with discrimination charges pressed against D66 leader Alexander Pechtold over a remark he made about Russians.

Wilders and Knoops sent the request for postponement to the Court of Appeal in The Hague on March 1st, the PVV confirmed to RTL Nieuws. 

After former Foreign Affairs Minister Halbe Zijlstra was discredited for lying about being at a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Pechtold responded with the comment: "I still have to meet the first Russian who corrects his mistakes himself." At least one Dutch-Russian man pressed charges of discrimination against Pechtold.

According to Knoops, the charges against Pechtold are based on the same law that Wilders is accused of breaking. The law in question prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, among other things. 

According to criminal justice expert Theo de Roos, Pechtold's remark was discriminatory. "If he literally said it like that, it is a wrong statement", he said to RTL Nieuws. "This involves an interpretation of the term 'race' in the penal code. But if you describe an entire people, in this case Russians, as a group of people who do not take the truth seriously, you are generalizing. That is wrong an falls under discrimination. That Pechtold nuanced it later is right and good, but the damage has actually already been done."

A spokesperson for the D66 told RTL that they are waiting for the Public Prosecutor to decide whether or not Pechtold will be prosecuted. 

Wilders is facing discrimination chargers over statements he made about Moroccans while campaigning in the Hague in 2014. Wilders said that The Hague should be a city with fewer problems and, if possible, fewer Moroccans. The PVV leader also asked a cafe full of his followers whether they want more or fewer Moroccans in The Hague and the Netherlands, to which they responded by chanting "fewer, fewer, fewer". Wilders then said he would arrange that. 

The court considered this a punishable offense. On December 9th, 2016, Wilders was found guilty of insulting a group of people and inciting discrimination. "Partly in view of the inflammatory nature and manner of these stamens, others were hereby incited to discriminate against persons of Moroccan origin", the court ruled. The court did not give him any form of punishment, saying that the verdict is punishment enough. The Public Prosecutor demanded a 5 thousand euro fine. Both Wilders and the Prosecutor appealed.