Appeal court judges will today begin three days of procedural hearings in the Geert Wilders ‘fewer Moroccans’ case, as the PVV leader re-starts an appeal against his earlier conviction.
The original appeal began in May 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.
Wilders’ lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops wants to use the Pechtold case to show that the public prosecution department is biased about whom it chooses to prosecute. He will again ask the court to do this, broadcaster NOS said.
In addition, Knoops wants the court to order an investigation into claims that former justice minister Ivo Opstelten may have personally intervened to make sure Wilders was prosecuted.
Three days have been set aside for the procedural motions and judges will announce their decisions in January.
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.
The main hearings in the appeal are set to take place after next summer, NOS said.
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