Appeal court judges are due today to begin hearings in the Geert Wilders ‘fewer Moroccans’ case, as the PVV leader re-starts an appeal against his earlier conviction.
However, recent claims of possible political interference may result in further delays to the case, observers said.
Broadcaster RTL Nieuws and the Telegraaf newspaper have both reported there was contact between the then-justice minister Ivo Opstelten and the head of the public prosecution department about the case in 2014. They also say Opstelten was keen to see Wilders prosecuted for leading the anti-Moroccan chant at a pre-election meeting.
The original appeal began in May last year but Wilders’ legal team successfully applied for the judges to be removed after alleging bias. The court had refused to delay the trial so that more research could be carried out into the decision not to prosecute D66 leader Alexander Pechtold for comments he made about Russians.
The ‘fewer Moroccans’ case dates back to 2014 when Wilders asked a roomful of supporters if they wanted to have ‘more or fewer’ Moroccans in the country. When the crowd shouted back: ‘Fewer, fewer,’ Wilders responded: ‘We’ll take care of that.’
In December 2016, Wilders was found guilty of inciting discrimination against Dutch Moroccans. A panel of three judges said Wilders’s comments were ‘demeaning and insulting to the Moroccan population’.
However, the court decided not to fine or sentence Wilders on the basis that a criminal conviction was sufficient punishment in itself.
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