Prosecutor, Justice Min. discussed Wilders hate speech trial, despite denials
The top man of the Public Prosecution Service discussed the hate-speech case against PVV leader Geert Wilders with then VVD Minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten, Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security said in a letter to parliament. Previously the Prosecutor and various officials from the Justice Ministry denied that this case was discussed, RTL Nieuws reports.
Herman Bolhaar, then the chairman of the Attorney General's Office, discussed the charges pressed against Wilders with Opstelten on April 2nd, 2014. "Wilders - procedure discussed - 1000 declarations", can be read in a short note following a regular periodic consultation between Bolhaar and Opstelten.
Earlier this year the Board of Advocates General officially denied to the court that there were ever consultations with officials or ministers about the charges filed against Wilders 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.
Various Ministers of Justice always suggested to parliament that there was no consultation with the Public Prosecutor about the PVV leader's prosecution, according to the broadcaster.
Grapperhaus further wrote that the regular consultation between the Minister and the chairman of the Attorney General's Office continued to happen during the time that the Public Prosecutor decided to prosecute Wilders. Whether or not Wilders' case was discussed during these regular meeting, Grapperhaus did not say. "No report is made of these consultations."
Minister Grapperhaus denies that Opstelten influenced the Public Prosecutor's decision to prosecute Wilders. In response to questions from he PVV leader, he said that he will not publish the Prosecutor's official messages to the then Minister, because that could hamper the criminal case against Wilders.
"So there has been contact. It's getting more and more murky", Wilders said to RTL Nieuws. "All the more reason to have Opstelten and Bolhaar and other top officials testify under oath."
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 statements, 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.
The appeal starts on Friday.