Anti-Islamist Geert Wilders claims minister colluded with prosecutors in hate speech case
Former Justice Minsiter Ivo Opstelten and the Public Prosecution Service discussed the prosecution of PVV leader Geert Wilders for hate speech even before the Public Prosecution Service had made the decision to prosecute the nationalist politician, RTL Nieuws report based on a secret official document it received from the Ministry of Justice and Security. Wilders is furious and demands that the case against him be dropped
The document, dated 16 September 2014, speaks of an "intended decision" on the Wilders hate speech case, and therefore not a definite, final decision. That is important, because the Public Prosecution Service always said that the decision to prosecute Wilders was made on September 10th.
According to RTL, this shows that the Minister and Public Prosecution Service discussed the Wilders case before the decision was made to prosecute him. What was said during this discussions, and whether the Minister actually pressured or influenced the Prosecutor in any way, is not shown in the document. According to the broadcaster, the Ministry also had press releases from the Public Prosecutor adjusted, so that they made a better political impression.
Wilders is furious. "The ministry officials have also been involved in press releases from the Public Prosecution Service, which were then adjusted", Wilders said to NOS. He too believes there was a political motive. "You see this in Cuba and North Korea. That a leader of a political opponent ins eliminated." He thinks that Ministry officials substantively influenced the Prosecutor and believes that he has been lied to. "On Tuesday, when the trial continues, this lawsuit must be stopped immediately."
The Public Prosecution Service was not available to comment to NU.nl on Friday. To RTL a Prosecution spokesperson said that they cannot comment on the still ongoing case.
Coalition party D66 is flabbergasted that the former Minister discussed the Wilders case with the Prosecutor before the prosecution decision as made. MP Maarten Groothuizen told Dagblad van het Noorden that it is high time that Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus "puts things right after the chaos the VVD caused".
"A minister who interferes in a criminal case against a politician is serious", SP leader Lilian Marijnissen said on Twitter. "Why has Minister Grapperhaus not been honest about this."
PvdA parliamentarian Attje Kuiken posted parliamentary questions, asking Grapperhaus to clarify exactly what was discussed between the Ministry and the Public Prosecution Service before the decision was made to prosecute Wilders.
Wilders is on trial for statements he made about Moroccans while campaigning in The Hague on 2014. He asked a cafe full of people whether they want "more or fewer Moroccans in this city and the Netherlands". The audience responded by chanting "fewer, fewer, fewer". And Wilders said: "Well, the we will arrange that." He also said that The Hague should be a city with fewer problems and, if possible, fewer Moroccans.
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.
That appeal is currently ongoing. The Public Prosecution Service again demanded a 5 thousand euros fine against Wilders.