Dutch court rejects anti-Islam MP's bias claim

23rd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

An Amsterdam court rejected a claim by far right leader Geert Wilders that an earlier court decison was biased and that hate speech charges against him should be dropped.

"The request is denied," said Judge Marcel van Oosten, during a hearing broadcast on the Internet by Dutch public television. "The trial must go on."

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.

On May 2, Wilders' lawyer Bram Moszkowicz argued his client no longer had recourse to a fair trial and that charges against him should be dropped.

In 2008, prosecutors had initially dismissed dozens of complaints against Wilders but an appeals court reversed that decion.

Wilders' defense team claims that one of the judges involved in that decison, Tom Schalken, tried to persuade Arab world expert and defense witness Hans Jansen of supporting the trial at a 2010 dinner party.

"It isn't plausible that Schalken tried to influence Jansen," said Judge van Ousten. "We cannot conclude that the defendant's rights were violated."

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

Wilders likens the Koran to Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf".

The MP, whose Party for Freedom came third in elections last year and 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."

© 2011 AFP

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