Dutch Court Ponders Halt to Lawmaker’s Hate Trial

Toby Sterling, Comcast News, February 14, 2011

An Amsterdam court will reconsider dismissing the hate speech trial of one of the Netherland’s most popular leaders, an anti-immigrant politician who has compared Islam to fascism and called for a ban on the Quran.

Preliminary objections to Geert Wilders’ trial were heard by another panel of judges last year, but that court stepped down when it became embroiled in allegations of potential bias against him.

A new court ruled Monday that Wilders’ defense team had a right to present its preliminary objections again, and if they are granted “then the case is over and out,” said Judge Marcel van Oosten.

Wilders, the powerful head of the Freedom Party, faces charges of “inciting discrimination” for his remarks, which opponents say have led to more anti-Muslim discrimination. Wilders denies wrongdoing, saying he has a right to freedom of speech and that many Dutch voters support him.

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