Wilders wants hate speech appeal postponed

Geert Wilders Purmerend borders closed
Geert Wilders in Purmerend handing out flyers against the opening of an asylum reception center there. Oct. 6, 2015 (photo: PVV). (Geert Wilders in Purmerend handing out flyers against the opening of an asylum reception center there. Oct. 6, 2015 (photo: PVV))

Lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops asked for the appeal in the hate speech case against Geert Wilders to be postponed on Thursday. The PVV leader needs more time for investigation, his lawyer said on the first of 11 days set aside for the appeal, NU.nl reports.

According to the lawyer, Wilders needs more time to investigate the process of the charges pressed against him. Wilders also wants to investigate why the statements he made crossed the boundary of what is punishable. It is important for citizens to know where the boundary lies between statements that are punishable and statements that aren't, Knoops said. According to him, Wilders can only get a fair trial if he his granted the time to investigate. 

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. 

On Thursday morning Wilders called the case against him a "legal jihad" speaking to RTL Nieuws. "The fact that I'm standing in court is the world turned upside down. If you randomly stab people in the neck, you get the stamp 'disturbed man', but if you ask a legitimate question to your audience, you end up in court", he said. Wilders added that he doesn't care much what the court rules. "Whatever the court rules doesn't interest me at all. I'll keep saying what I think, in the worst case only in parliament, where I enjoy immunity."