Dutch politician Geert Wilders is on trial in the Netherlands on five counts of racial incitement, stemming from statements he made in public forums between October 2006 and March 2008.
If convicted, Wilders could be sentenced to more than a year in prison, or could be slapped with a £6,600 ($10,471) fine.
The 47-year-old Member of Parliament demanded Monday that the presiding judge be replaced after the two got into a verbal sparring match, with Wilders' attorney accusing Judge Jan Moors of bias against his client after the judge made remarks in response to the politician's decision not to answer any questions. The subsequent demand by Wilders’ attorneys to dissolve the court has resulted in a 24-hour delay, and the issue must now be decided by the court, which may lead to dismissal of the panel of judges and a further delay in the proceedings.
“I am sitting here as a suspect because I have spoken nothing but the truth,” Wilders was quoted as saying while sitting at his trial on Monday. “I have said what I have said and I will not take one word back.”
The 47-year-old Member of Parliament (MP) added that Dutch authorities were also prosecuting the 1.5 million voters who had supported him and 23 other MPS backed by his Freedom Party (PVV) in the June polls. Wilders’ faction is now the third largest in the Netherlands.In March 2008, Wilders released Fitna (“strife” in Arabic), a film that linked verses in the Koran to the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on New York and London. (Click here to view the movie.)
Wilders has described the Koran as a “fascist book” which he compared to Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” – a banned tome in Holland.
The politician was provided with police protection in 2005 after it was discovered that Islamist terrorists had plotted to murder him. That same year, Wilders made the first European call for a ban on the burka – the full Islamic dress that completely conceals a Muslim woman’s figure and face, and which some officials fear could also hide the identity of a terrorist as well.