Dutch anti-Islam MP' hate speech trial adjourned
The hate speech trial of Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders was adjourned for 24 hours shortly after opening in Amsterdam on Monday as he called on the judges to recuse themselves on the grounds of bias.
"We will now retire to consider" Wilders' application, said judge Frans Bauduin, the chairman of a special panel of judges hastily convened to hear the recusal bid that interrupted Wilders' trial.
A ruling on the recusal is to be made at 2:00 pm (1200 GMT) on Tuesday, said Bauduin.
Wilders, 47, risks up to a year in jail or a 7,600-euro fine for calling Islam "fascist" and likening the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf.
He is charged with five counts of giving religious offence to Muslims and inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims and people of non-Western immigrant origin, particularly Moroccans, in comments made between October 2006 and March 2008 in Dutch newspapers and on Internet forums.
After a brief initial statement in the morning in which he defended his right to free speech, Wilders announced to the court that he would invoke his right to remain silent and not answer any questions.
This moved presiding judge Jan Moors to observe that Wilders has often been accused in the media of making wild statements and then avoiding the discussions they evoked, adding "it seems as if you're doing it again".
Wilders then sought the recusal of Moors and his two assistants, claiming they had demonstrated bias against him.
"Inappropriate, even scandalous", Wilders told the court of the statement, adding: "In my opinion, a fair trial is no longer possible".
His lawyer Bram Moszkowicz said the incident has "created an impression of partiality".
Wilders is set to become a shadow partner of the next Dutch government after his Party for Freedom came third in June 9 national elections with 24 out of 150 members of the lower house of parliament.
© 2010 AFP