The public prosecution office has been told to look into whether people were pushed into making police complaints against Geert Wilders after his ‘fewer Moroccans’ chant in 2014.
On Thursday appeal court judges, who will hear Wilders’ appeal against his conviction for inciting discrimination and hatred next year, said that the public prosecutor must look into the way the complaints were collected and at how the decision to prosecute Wilders was taken.
In total, some 6,500 complaints were made against Wilders after he led a crowd of supporters in the chanting after the local elections.
However, Wilders’ defence team believes many of the complaints were made by people who had no idea about who Wilders is, and claims that stacks of forms which had already filled in were waiting to be signed at police stations.
Wilders has also claimed that there was collusion between the police and public prosecution department and that ministers had a hand in ensuring he was taken to court.
The court rejected Wilders’ demand that prime minister Mark Rutte and other ex ministers be called to give evidence but did say Wilders may call two experts to testify at the appeal: columnist and Leiden academic Afshin Ellian and Utrecht human rights professor Tom Zwart.
Zwart will focus on the interpretation of the word ‘race’ in the European treaty of human rights while Ellian will be asked if Wilders’ comment is a ‘relevant, political contribution’ to debate.
The court has also asked human rights professor Antoine Buyse to examine the clash between the right to freedom of speech and anti-discrimination legislation.
The main hearings will take place on May 17, 2018.
At the original trial at the end of last year, a panel of three judges ruled Wilders’ 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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