Ruling in Wilders hate speech appeal today
After a process that lasted six years, the court of appeals will rule in the hate-speech trial against populist politician Geert Wilders, leader of far-right party PVV, on Friday. Wilders is accused of group insult and incitement to discrimination by saying that he would arrange "fewer Moroccans" in the Netherlands. The ruling is expected at around 1:30 p.m. at the high-security court at Schiphol.
Wilders is on trial for statements he made about Moroccans while campaigning in The Hague in 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, then we will arrange that." He also said that The Hague should be a city with fewer problems and, if possible, fewer Moroccans.
In December 2016, Wilders was found guilty of insulting a group of people and inciting discrimination, though the court imposed no 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.
During the appeal hearings, Wilders and his lawyers argued that he case against him be dropped or that he at least be acquitted. RTL Nieuws released documents showing that the Public Prosecution Service and former Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten discussed the Wilders case. According to the politician, this showed that his prosecution was politically motivated.
Wilders also cited a letter a former police officer sent to newspaper AD, in which she claimed that the reports against Wilders were staged because some of the people who filed charges against him "hardly or not at all" spoke Dutch, and recent riots in Utrecht and The Hague as reasons that the case should be dropped.
"Look at what happened in the country in The Hague, in Utrecht in recent weeks. Our neighborhoods were on fire, the police were pelted. It was not only Moroccans who did that, but the majority," Wilders said at the last day of hearings last week. "They might get away with that, while I have been on trial for years for asking a question."
The Public Prosecution Service denied any political involvement in the decision to prosecute Wilders. The Prosecutor again demanded a 5 thousand euro fine against him.