Geert Wilders is a free man. After a trial that has dragged on for a year and a half, he has now been acquitted of all the charges against him
It took the chief judge just twenty minutes to summarise the court’s ruling on five charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims. The verdict was greeted with applause from Mr Wilders’ supporters in the public gallery. Mr Wilders himself stood up, grinning broadly, and patted his lawyer on the back in congratulation.
A short while later, Mr Wilders emerged to speak to a throng of more than 50 journalists, many from foreign news organisations. Mr Wilders was visibly relieved. He is a tall man, but he stood even taller as he spoke of his victory.
“I am very pleased and happy. Its not just a victory for me, but for freedom of expression in Holland …. A great burden has been lifted off me.
He concluded his remarks with the Dutch equivalent of “I’m as happy as a kid in a candy store.”
Injured parties may appeal to Euroean court
The defence is happy, but so too is the prosecution. The public prosecutor will not appeal the verdict, since the prosecutors had also asked for acquittal.
Less happy are the lawyers for the individuals and organisations who took part in the trial as ‘injured parties’. But since they have no standing in this case, they cannot appeal to a Dutch higher court. They have no further legal options within the Netherlands but Ties Prakken, the senior lawyer for the injured parties, says she plans to take the case to a European court. She would not specify whether that would be the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg, or the UN Covenant for Civil and Political Rights in Geneva. Under current convention, the latter court can rule that a state must take action against someone who discriminates against others if it can be shown that the state is failing to do so (…)