Lawyer for Dutch anti-Islam MP seeks judges' recusal

22nd October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders' defence lawyer sought the recusal Friday of the panel of judges trying the politician for hate speech, saying he feared they were biased against him.

The bench had created "an impression of partiality" by putting off a decision on the defence's request to recall a witness, Wilders' lawyer Bram Moszkowicz told the Amsterdam district court.

"I ask for your recusal," the lawyer said on the final day of argument in his client's trial, broadcast live on the Internet.

Being denied an opportunity to recall the witness would "make it impossible for the defence to substantiate a crucial part of its case," he added.

Wilders, 47, went on trial on October 4 for inciting hatred by calling Islam "fascist" and likening the Koran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf".

The prosecution and defence have both asked for Wilders' acquittal, while Muslims have told the court he was "dangerous" and should be reined in.

Prosecutors, who initially dismissed dozens of complaints against the politician in June 2008, told the court last Friday that Wilders' statements, though hurtful, were not criminal.

Appeals judges ordered in January 2009 that Wilders stand trial as his utterances amounted to "sowing hatred" -- compelling the prosecution to mount a case against him.

Moszkowicz said he wanted to recall defence witness Hans Jansen, a so-called "Arab expert". Jansen had claimed in an interview published in a Dutch newspaper on Friday that one of the appeals judges had tried to convince him at a dinner of the necessity of putting Wilders on trial.

Wilders has previously also sought his judges' recusal, complaining at the start of his trial about their reaction to his decision to rely on his right to remain silent.

The politician, who will give parliamentary support to a new, rightist coalition government, risks up to a year in jail or a 7,600-euro fine for comments made in his campaign to "stop the Islamisation of the Netherlands".

A specially convened panel of judges will consider the recusal request later on Friday.

© 2010 AFP

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