Court agrees to delay Wilders’ trial due to political interference claim

Appeal court judges have agreed to delay the continuation of Geert Wilders’ trial for making discriminatory comments about Moroccans until December 9.

Wilders’ lawyer had asked for a delay to give the defence more time to collect evidence of possible political interference in the case by the then-justice minister Ivo Opstelten.

Geert-Jan Knoops had requested a delay several times during the hearings, each of which had been rejected. However the judges said on Wednesday, the last scheduled day of the hearing, that they would grant an extension. Wilders had been due to address the court later in the day.

The public prosecution department has always denied there was any political interference in the case.

The 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. Wilders was also found guilty of insulting Dutch people of Moroccan origin as a group, but cleared of inciting hatred against them.

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