Dutch prosecutors dismiss anti-Islam MP's trial objections

16th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Dutch prosecutors asked judges on Wednesday to dismiss anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders' objections to their competence in a bid to have his hate speech trial thrown out.

"The appeals court ordered us to prosecute, and we must do that," prosecutor Paul Velleman told the Amsterdam district court, insisting there was no problem with jurisdiction as claimed by the rightwing MP.

On Monday, Wilders' lawyer Bram Moszkowicz asked the court to declare itself and the prosecution not competent in the case.

If the judges decide to uphold Wilders' objections, the case could be thrown out. A decision is expected on March 30.

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, in numerous public statements since October 2006.

The Dutch MP's trial opened in October last year, but ended abruptly 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.

Wilders calls Islam "fascist", likens the Koran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and campaigns for a ban of the burqa and the building of new mosques in the Netherlands.

He shot to international notoriety in 2008 with the release of his short film, "Fitna", which mixes Koranic verses with footage of extremist attacks.

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, who initially dismissed dozens of complaints against him in June 2008 but were compelled by an appeals ruling to mount a case regardless, told judges last October that Wilders' statements, though hurtful, were not criminal.

© 2011 AFP

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