Dutch anti-Islam MP' hate speech trial to continue

5th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The hate speech trial of Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders, set to become a shadow partner of the next government, will go ahead as planned after a court Tuesday refused to dismiss his judges for alleged bias.

"The chamber dismisses the request" for the judges' recusal, said judge Frans Bauduin, the chairman of a panel of judges convened to hear the challenge.

"There are no convincing indications that the judges are partial" against the accused, Bauduin added.

The next sitting will take place in the Amsterdam district court on Wednesday, as scheduled.

Wilders' trial opened Monday with the controversial politician defending his right to free speech but invoking his right to remain silent and not answer questions at trial.

He 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".

Wilders claimed Monday that trial judge Jan Moors had reacted to his vow of silence in a way that suggested partiality, and asked for Moors and his two assistant judges to be removed from his case.

Moors had observed that Wilders is often accused of making wild statements and then avoiding the discussions they evoke, adding "it seems as if you're doing it again".

Bauduin said Tuesday that Moors' words had been "unfortunately formulated" but "did not indicate any intent relating to the final judgment on the charges on the indictment."

Wilders 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.

Seven days of hearings have been scheduled in the month of October, with judgment expected on November 4.

Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) came third in June 9 national elections, and is concluding a deal to support a new minority government of Christian Democrats and liberals in return for a voice in policy-making.

© 2010 AFP

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