Dutch anti-Islam MP seeks new judges for trial

15th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders wants the withdrawal of a new panel of judges chosen to try him for hate speech, his lawyer said Friday, claiming they were biased.

"Mr presiding judge, I will demand the recusal of your chamber," lawyer Bram Moszcowicz told judge Marcel van Oosten at a hearing in Amsterdam six months after Wilders succeeded in having a first panel of judges withdrawn.

Wilders and his lawyer question the new judges' partiality based on their refusal to open a perjury probe of a witness accused of lying to the court.

An independent chamber of judges has been assigned to rule on the latest application.

The trial of Wilders, who leads the Netherlands' third biggest political party, opened in October last year but was abruptly halted three weeks later when the judges trying him were ordered to step down by a panel of their peers who upheld the politician's claims of bias.

In March, the new judges ruled that the trial must go ahead, dismissing Wilders' claims that they had no jurisdiction in the case.

Wilders, 47, faces five counts of giving offence to Muslims and of inciting hatred against Muslims and people of non-Western immigrant origin, particularly Moroccans.

The allegations arise partly from the short film "Fitna", which catapulted Wilders to international notoriety in 2008 and in which he mixes Koranic verses with footage of extremist attacks.

In the film he likens the Koran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf".

The MP, whose Party for Freedom gives parliamentary support to a right-leaning coalition, faces up to a year in jail or a 7,600 euro (10,300 dollar) fine for comments made in his campaign to "stop the Islamisation of the Netherlands".

Prosecutors initially dismissed dozens of complaints against Wilders in June 2008 but were compelled by appeals judges to mount a case against him in 2010.

© 2011 AFP

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