Wilders’ trial winds up, verdict due later this month

The trial of MP Geert Wilders on inciting hatred and discrimination charges wound up on Wednesday with the MP breaking his near silence to address the judges directly and call on them to find him not guilty.

Wilders said he was in court because of things he says, had said and would continue saying.
‘May have kept silent, but Pim Fortuyn did not, Theo van Gogh did not and I have not,’ Wilders said.
Populist politician and anti-Islam campaigner Pim Fortuyn was murdered by an environmental activist in 2002. Film maker Theo van Gogh was killed by a fundamentalist Muslim in 2004 after making a short film attacking Islam.
Western values
Wilders went on to liken himself to Dutch historical figures Johan de Witt and Johan van Barnevelt who were murdered in the 17th century while defending what they believed in.
‘I am putting my life in the balance for freedom. Remaining silent would be betrayal,’ news agency ANP quoted him as saying. ‘If you find me guilty, you are finding freedom of speech guilty and the light will go out in the Netherlands.’
The public prosecution department has already called for Wilders to be found not guilty on all charges. It was ordered to take the case to trial by the appeal court after a number of ethnic minority lobby groups pressed for legal action.
Erik Olof, representing a number of those groups, told the court that there was a real threat of discrimination in Wilders’ statements that the Koran be banned and that no more Muslims should be let into the country.
The trial will formally close on June 9 with the verdict due on June 23.

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