Netherlands Trial: Geert Wilders Guilty of Incitement

wilders verdict

Dutch anti-Islam political leader Geert Wilders has been convicted of insulting a group and inciting discrimination.

But no penalty was imposed by the court near Amsterdam on Wilders, whose party is leading in polls ahead of parliamentary elections in March.

Wilders was also acquitted of inciting hate over telling supporters in March 2014 he would ensure there were fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands.

He called the guilty verdict “madness” in a tweet posted a short time later.

He said he would appeal.

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The three-week trial was triggered when police received 6,400 complaints about remarks Wilders made during a municipal election campaign in The Hague.

At a campaign meeting, he asked supporters whether they wanted “fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands”.

When the crowd shouted back “Fewer! Fewer!” a smiling Wilders responded: “We’re going to take care of that.”

At the trial, prosecutors took testimony from Dutch-Moroccans who said his comments made them feel like “third-rate citizens”.
‘Line crossed’

Wilders had argued his comments should be protected by his right to freedom of speech, reports the BBC’s Anna Holligan in the Schiphol court.

But judges ruled there were limits and that this right could not be used to limit the freedom of others – in this case, a minority group.

“If a politician crosses the line, that doesn’t mean free speech is being restricted,” said Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis. “A crime cannot be protected by the right to free speech.”

The verdict suggests that, in effect, Wilders and his party staged a stunt. Judges found evidence that they planned the remarks in advance and coached the supporters on how to respond. He had intended to insult, they said.

Source: BBC

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