Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Wilders challenges judges at hate speech trial
(Photo: Geert Wilders (C) at his trial in Amsterdam, 4 Oct 2010/Marcel Antonisse)
Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders, a key player in efforts to form a new government, has accused judges trying him on charges of inciting hatred of scandalous bias and demanded they be replaced.
Wilders, who has 24-hour police guard because of death threats, went on trial Monday over comments including a comparison he made between the Islamic faith and Nazism.
“I have said what I have said and I will not take one word back, but that doesn’t mean I’ve said everything attributed to me,” Wilders said before invoking his right to remain silent. That stance prompted the presiding judge to say that Wilders had been accused by others of making statements while avoiding debate and that it appeared he was doing the same in court.
“I find it … inappropriate, improper and even scandalous that the chairman of the court interprets this and commentates on it,” Wilders said at a separate hearing hastily held to discuss concerns raised by his lawyer Bram Moszkowicz about the impartiality of the judges. “The appearance of bias … has been invoked. A fair process is no longer possible.”
Judges adjourned the trial and will decide at about 1200 GMT Tuesday on the issue of the judges’ impartiality. If the court rules in favor of the defence’s objections, new judges must be imposed, delaying the trial for months.
Here’s the Reuters video report on the trial: