The court case against MP Geert Wilders on charges of inciting hatred and discrimination resumes on Wednesday.
The focus at today’s hearings is on a dinner party during which Wilders’ legal team claims a senior court official tried to influence a witness in the case.
Senior court official Tom Schalken was a member of the appeal court which ruled Wilders should be taken to court, even though the public prosecution department was opposed.
During the dinner, which was a private occasion, he allegedly told the other guests it was good that Wilders is being prosecuted.
One of them, Arab expert Hans Jansen claims Schalken continued to try to steer the conversation towards the trial. Jansen was due to give evidence at a pre-trial hearing a few days later.
Schalken tried to ‘convince me his decision to take Wilders to court was correct,’ Jansen told the Pers newspaper late last year. Although he did not feel influenced, he felt the court official’s behaviour was unprofessional and ill-mannered.
The dinner itself has nothing to do with the trial, but is the reason the previous hearings were abandoned last October. The judges then refused to call Schalken and Jansen to answer questions on the matter – which led Wilders’ legal team to renew its accusations of bias.
A court panel went on to dismiss the judges and called for a new trial.
The leader of the anti-Islam PVV party faces several charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims, Moroccans and non-Western immigrants.
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