Dutch prosecutors seek 'insult' acquittal for anti-Islam MP
Dutch prosecutors asked judges on Tuesday to acquit anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders of a charge of giving offense to Muslims and not to award damages to his hate speech accusers.
"Comparing the Koran and Islam to Mein Kampf, national socialism, fascism and communism can without a doubt be hurtful. But hurting feelings as such is not a punishable insult" under Dutch law, prosecutor Paul Velleman told the Amsterdam district court.
Wilders, set to become a shadow partner of the new Dutch government, went on trial last Monday for calling Islam "fascist" and likening the Koran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf".
In June 2008, the prosecuting service dismissed dozens of complaints against the politician from individuals around the country, citing his right to freedom of speech.
But appeals judges ordered in January 2009 that he stand trial as his utterances amounted to "sowing hatred" -- compelling the prosecution to mount a case against him.
Fellow prosecutor Birgit van Roessel asked Tuesday that the complainants' damages claim be dismissed as they had not managed to show that Wilders' utterances were aimed directly against them.
"We believe that none of the complainants suffered direct damages," she said -- insisting the trial was not politically motivated as Wilders had claimed.
"A political process is one in which politics have a considerable or decisive influence on the decision to prosecute and on the outcome of the trial. That is not the case here," she added.
Wilders, 47, also faces four counts of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims and people of non-Western immigrant origin, particularly Moroccans.
Prosecutors will make their submissions on these counts on Friday, and make recommendations to the judges on sentencing.
Wilders's Party for Freedom, on a mission to "stop the Islamisation of the Netherlands", has signed a coalition deal to provide a minority cabinet of the Christian Democrats and liberals with the votes they need in parliament in return for a voice in policy formation.
© 2010 AFP