The trial of PVV leader Geert Wilders on charges of inciting racism and hatred will start on March 18 with a procedural hearing, The Hague’s district court said on Friday.
The hearing will focus on the investigation into the charges against Wilders and set dates for witness appearances and the rest of the trial.
Wilders faces prosecution for his comments about Moroccan nationals on March 12 and 19, 2015, during and after the local election campaign.
In March, Wilders told supporters in Loosduinen that he would rather there were ‘fewer Moroccans’ in The Hague.
Seven days later, during a post vote meeting with supporters, Wilders asked the crowd ‘and do you want more or fewer Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands?’ To which the crowd chanted ‘fewer, fewer, fewer’. ‘We’ll arrange that,’ Wilders said, smiling, when the chanting died down.
The comments led to over 6,400 complaints to the police and a slew of resignations from the PVV.
The public prosecution department says that while it considers Wilders has insulted people on racial grounds and encouraged discrimination and hatred, this does not mean he has committed a criminal offence.
In June 2011, Wilders was found not guilty of charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims and non-westerm immigrants by judges in Amsterdam.
The court ruled that some of Wilders’ statements were insulting, shocking and on the edge of legal acceptibility, but that they were made in the broad context of a political and social debate on the multi-cultural society.
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