Efforts by Geert Wilders’ lawyer to have one of the judges in his inciting hatred trial removed for bias have failed.
A special panel set up to hear the request said on Friday afternoon that the judge had shown no bias and there was no reason to take her off the case.
Lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops told the panel earlier there is ‘no doubt’ the judge was biased. ‘This is not apparent partiality. This is just partiality,’ he said.
Knoops had argued that one of the three judges misled expert witness Paul Cliteur on Thursday. Elianne van Rens, the judge in question, was not at the hearing on Friday but made a written representation admitting she made a mistake in the interrogation but believes this is no reason to remove her from the case.
Wilders is accused of discrimination and inciting racial hatred at local election events in 2014, but the trial was halted to examine the allegation against the judge.
Wilders, who is exercising his right not to be present at his own trial, tweeted on Thursday: ‘What terrible bias from this judge who can barely disguise her hatred of the PVV.’
In March this year, Wilders and his lawyer also asked van Rens to recuse herself from the case, according to broadcaster NOS.
The trial revolves around two incidents in The Hague in March 2014, including a meeting of PVV supporters where Wilders led a crowd of supports chanting for ‘fewer, fewer, fewer’ Moroccans in the UK. Wilders replied: ‘Then we’ll arrange that.’
His anti-immigration party, which wants a ban on the Koran, mosques and closure of asylum centres, is currently running second to Mark Rutte’s liberal VVD in the polls. The party hit its highest ever popularity mark earlier this year.
Wilders’ trial began on Monday and is expected to last three weeks. The head of the PVV was tried and acquitted for hate speech against Islam in 2011, having made two requests for judge replacement ending in all three judges being replaced and a lengthy process.
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