Dutch politician will not be prosecuted for remark about Russians

D66 leader Alexander Pechtold will not be prosecuted for a remark he made about Russians. His remark does not constitute group insult and is not punishable, the Public Prosecutor announced on Wednesday.

After former Foreign Affairs Minister Halbe Zijlstra was discredited in February 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." 

According to the Public Prosecutor, this statement is not insulting under criminal law. If the statement was insulting, then the context of the social debate removes the offending character, the Prosecutor said. The Prosecutor also called the statement not "unnecessarily offensive".

The people who pressed charges against Pechtold can still appeal against the Public Prosecutor's decision. 

Over the weekend PVV leader Geert Wilders and his lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops requested that the appeal in the hate speech trial against Wilders be postponed pending the Prosecutor's decision on whether or not to prosecute Pechtold. According to Knoops, the charges pressed against Pechtold are based on the same law Wilders is accused of breaking - the law prohibiting incitement to discrimination on grounds of race, among other things. 

If Pechtold is not prosecuted, Wilders' right to a fair trial is being violated, the lawyer said to the Telegraaf. 

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.