Geert Wilders back in court as first political trial in Europe since 1989 resumes in Amsterdam
The trial of Geert Wilders resumes in the Netherlands again raising questions about Islam and freedom of speech
The trial of Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician accused of insulting Islam, resumes today in Amsterdam with three experts on the Middle East and Islam being called to give testimony.
The Wilders trial in the Netherlands is regarded by many as the first political trial in a European Union country since the end of communism in 1989.
It is also seen as a test case for freedom of speech and the rule of law in a country where Muslims are estimated to represent between seven percent and 10 percent of the population.
At the heart of the prosecution’s case are remarks made by Wilders comparing Islam with Nazism and fascism.
Prosecutors have already brought before the courts comments he made in an interview with the Amsterdam newspaper De Volkskrant saying: "…the core of the problem is the fascist Islam, the sick ideology of Allah and Mohammed as written down in the Islamic Mein Kampf."
Wilders is unapologetic. In advance of the resumption of his trial he has been ramping up his anti-Islam rhetoric still further. Two weeks ago, he described the Prophet Mohammed as an "insane paedophile, rapist murderer".
Critics of the trial say it has been instigated by his political oppnents in the Dutch parliament where Wilders’ Freedom Party plays an informal, supporting role to the country’s government.
In October last year the trial almost collapsed after it was revealed that one of the judges had had dinner with a potential expert witness and had tried to pursuade him of the correctness of bringing Wilders to trial. It is revelations such as this that have called into question the trial’s compatibility with the rule of law itself.
The defence team failed in an attempt to have the case thrown out in March. At the time, Wilders tweeted: "Disappointing ruling at Amsterdam court," and "Still am convinced of acquittal, will never be silenced."
If found guilty, Wilders could be jailed for up to a year. A verdict is expected in June.
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