October 28, 2010

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Geert Wilders Wins a Retrial in Dutch Anti-Islam Case

Hudson New York 27 October 2010
By Soeren Kern

In a stunning turn of events, a Dutch court has summarily removed the judges presiding over the anti-Islam hate-speech trial of Geert Wilders, after it emerged that one of the judges attempted to influence an expert witness before the trial. A hastily convened judicial panel agreed with Wilders that the judges were biased against him and ordered a retrial, sending the closely-watched case back to square one before an entirely new panel of judges. Wilders, who has called the trial a farce, a disgrace and an assault on free speech, welcomed the decision, saying: "This gives me a new chance with a new fair trial."

Wilders is facing five charges of inciting racial and religious hatred for remarks which include equating Islam with fascism and others calling for a ban on the Koran and a tax on Muslim headscarves. Viewed more broadly, however, the Wilders trial represents a landmark case that likely will establish the limits of free speech in a country where the politically correct elite routinely seek to silence public discussion about the escalating problem of Muslim immigration.

The Wilders trial, which began at the Amsterdam District Court on October 4, was scheduled to end on October 22, with the verdict from the panel of three judges due on November 5. But the trial unexpectedly collapsed in disarray on its final scheduled day of hearings after Dutch newspapers reported that Tom Schalken, one of the judges who ordered Wilders to stand trial, had dinner with Hans Jansen, a leading Dutch expert on Islam who also happens to be a defense witness. Jansen said that Schalken had improperly tried "to convince me of the correctness of the decision to take Wilders to court." (An English-language translation of Jansen's accusations can be found here.)

After the allegations came to light, Bram Moszkowicz, Wilders's lawyer, asked the court to summon Jansen, but Moszkowicz was refused. In response, Moszkowicz formally protested that the judges were biased against the defendant and should be dismissed; he also called Schalken's contact with Jansen "scandalous" (...)

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