Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders found guilty in hate speech trial

Wilders branded the trial a politically motivated 'charade' and said the judges were 'haters' of his party

Harry Cockburn
Friday 09 December 2016 11:35 GMT
Geert Wilders: 'I will never be silent'

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Populist anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders has been convicted in a hate speech trial by a court in the Netherlands.

Wilders was found guilty of insulting a group and inciting discrimination after leading a chant against having Moroccans in the country.

But Judge Hendrik Steenhuis resisted prosecutors’ calls to fine him €5,000 and said the court would not impose a sentence on Wilders.

Instead, he said the conviction alone was punishment enough for a politician who has been democratically elected.

Dutch anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders reacts to hate speech trial

Wilders is the leader of the far-right Freedom Party which is currently leading in national polls and is forecast to surge ahead of its rivals at the country’s election in March 2017.

The trial focused on an episode in 2014 at a café in The Hague where Wilders, in front of television cameras, asked supporters whether they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands, sparking a chant of “fewer, fewer, fewer”, to which he replied “we’ll take care of it”.

Wilders branded the trial a politically motivated “charade” and said it endangered freedom of speech.

Before declaring Wilders guilty, Judge Steenhuis stressed that freedom of speech was not on trial, as Wilders claimed.

“Freedom of speech is one of the foundations of our democratic society,” the judge said. But he added: “Freedom of speech can be limited, for example to protect the rights and freedoms of others, and that is what this case is about.”

Wilders was not in court when the verdict was read, but even before the case went ahead, he said he would not let a conviction muzzle him.

"Whatever the verdict, I will continue to speak the truth about the Moroccan problem, and no judge, politician or terrorist will stop me," he tweeted shortly before the verdict.

Speaking after the verdict was announced, Wilders said his conviction of discrimination and inciting hatred was “insanity” and said the three judges who handed down the ruling were “haters” of his far-right Freedom Party (PVV).

“Three PVV-hating judges declare Moroccans a race and convict me and half of the Netherlands. Insane,” he wrote in a tweet shortly after the verdict.

Wilders was previously acquitted of hate speech at another trial in 2011 for his outspoken criticism of Islam.

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