The trial of MP Geert Wilders on charges of inciting hatred and discrimination kicked off at the heavily armed Schiphol court room on Friday.
A handful of Pegida supporters were outside the court to support Wilders, who described the proceeding as a ‘farce’. On Thursday evening it emerged that his lawyer’s strategy and main statement had been leaked to the AD newspaper.
That document showed that Wilders wanted to call prime minister Mark Rutte, his deputy Lodewijk Asscher, counter terrorism chief Dick Schoof and a number of other ministers and officials as witnesses. Those requests have all been denied by the court.
Friday’s hearing is a procedural one to discuss the investigation and decide if any more requests for witnesses and information are needed. Formal hearings will begin on October 31 and the verdict is due in early December, officials said earlier this month.
The case dates back to a gathering with supporters in The Hague in March 2014, when 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 chanting, and other comments made several days earlier, led to two MPs, MEPs and a handful of local and provincial councillors breaking ties with the PVV. The public prosecution department also received over 6,400 complaints.
In 2010, Wilders was found not guilty of inciting hatred and discrimination at an earlier trial. Legal experts say the new case against Wilders is stronger than the previous one.
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