‘Do you want more or fewer Moroccans?’ PVV leader Geert Wilders asked a crowd in 2014. ‘Fewer, fewer, fewer,’ they shouted. ‘Then we will arrange that,’ he told them. It is those comments that have repeatedly landed Wilders in court over the last five years.
Today the Dutch public prosecution service (OM) demanded Wilders pay a €5,000 fine for a conviction of inciting racial discrimination stemming from the 2014 remarks.
In 2016, Wilders was found guilty of inciting discrimination against Dutch Moroccans. Judges in the case found that his remarks were ‘demeaning and insulting to the Moroccan population’.
Though they convicted him, the three-judge panel declined to impose a fine or another penalty. At the time, they concluded that the conviction was punishment enough, although the prosecution asked initially for a fine.
Both Wilders and the public prosecution service appealed the verdict. Hearings on the appeals were delayed to last week, as Wilders’ legal team successfully argued that several of the judges were biased.
This week, the court heard from the public prosecution, which argued that because Wilders had included all Morrocans in his statements, they constituted racial hatred. ‘The PVV leader explicitly chose not to talk exclusively about criminal Moroccans, in order to increase the impact of his words’, said Birgit van Roessel, the advocate general. The prosecution had this week to present its case.
The trial will continue on September 3, when Wilders will have the opportunity to defend himself. According to his lawyer, Geert-Jan Knoops, they have not ruled out the idea that Wilders will present some of the arguments himself.
Safer swimming pools
Wilders, meanwhile, has called the trial a waste of money and resources. This is taking up ‘time and money that can be better spent on making swimming pools safe,’ he told reporters before the hearing this morning.
A verdict in the case is expected on October 11, 2019
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