Covid skeptic not getting a fair trial, lawyer says
Willem Engel’s lawyer believes his client will not get a fair trial. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) should not have prosecuted Engel because, as a political activist, he has freedom of expression in public debate, lawyer Michael Ruperti said on Monday at the start of a pre-trial hearing in the court of Rotterdam. The case will continue as the court rejected the defense lawyer's arguments for dismissal. Engel is facing charges of sedition.
As a political activist, Engel does not hide his opinion, Ruperti said. “He is very consciously pushing the boundaries in the public debate.” According to Ruperti, Engel does this peacefully and distances himself from violence. “He is someone who never scolds, threatens, or intimidates,” the lawyer said. “In the context of the public debate, he has not behaved criminally. This makes prosecution incomprehensible.”
At the end of last year, a collective declaration by Norbert Dikkeboom, which got 22,581 signatures, was submitted against Engel to the OM in Rotterdam. The plaintiffs believe Engel is guilty of incitement, spreading medical disinformation, fraud, statements with terrorist intent, and threats. Ruperti believes the OM is siding with Dikkeboom and calls it “curious and arbitrary.”
Ruperti: “Engel is portrayed by public opinion as a wappie, conspiracy theorist, and dance teacher with no knowledge about affairs. Everyone who disagreed with him fell over each other to express their opinion.”
In addition to this sedition case, a smaller criminal case against Engel is pending at the court in The Hague. The chairman of the Rotterdam court called it “inconvenient and unfortunate” that two similar cases are happening side-by-side. According to the OM, combining the two cases is not legally possible because the cases have already been brought before two courts.
Reporting by ANP