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Wilders calls for parliamentary enquiry into political meddling in his trail

PVV leader Geert Wilders has called for a parliamentary inquiry into political interference in his trial in which he is being accused of "discrimination and inciting hatred" against people with a Moroccan background.

Published: June 11, 2019, 9:14 am

    The case is extremely sensitive because it involves political involvement in the criminal prosecution of a people’s representative.

    Broadcaster RTL Nieuws and the Telegraaf daily have both reported that there had been contact between the then-justice minister Ivo Opstelten and the head of the public prosecution department about the case in 2014.

    Until Friday, the Ministry of Justice had denied that there had been consultation between the Ministry and the Public Prosecution Service. But on Friday, answers from Minister of Justice to parliamentary questions from Wilders, showed that there had indeed been a consultation.

    It was also revealed that Opstelten had been keen to see Wilders prosecuted for leading the anti-Moroccan chant at a pre-election meeting. However, current justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus is refusing to send documents detailing the meetings – which had been officially denied – to parliament.

    According to Grapperhaus, there are “no (formal) indications” of interference by Opstelten.

    The documents, prepared as briefings for the minister, will remain secret because of the confidential information they contain, the minister told MPs. The case in which Wilders’ supporters chanted “fewer Moroccans”, dates back to 2014 when the PVV leader asked a roomful of supporters if they wanted to have “more or fewer” Moroccans in the country.

    When the crowd responded to his question with “fewer, fewer”, Wilders answered: “We’ll take care of that.”

    In December 2016, Wilders was found guilty of inciting discrimination and the panel of three judges said Wilders’ comments were “demeaning and insulting to the Moroccan population”. However, the court decided not to fine or sentence Wilders on the basis that a criminal conviction was sufficient punishment in itself.

    The original appeal began in May last year but Wilders’ legal team successfully applied for the judges to be removed after proving their political bias. The appeal is due to resume later this month and both Opstelten and former prosecution chief Herman Bolhaar may be on the witness list.

    The new information could have major consequences for the prosecution of Wilders, because the Public Prosecution Service has not spoken the truth to the judges involved. It is possible that the entire lawsuit will soon implode.

    The Public Prosecution Service and the Ministry of Justice had previously maintained that the Public Prosecution Service has “independently” taken a decision to prosecute Wilders.

    In another similar development, video sharing site YouTube removed all archive material belonging to the regional archive in Alkmaar for alleged “hate-mongering”, NH Nieuws reported.

    The material YouTube objected to included images from World War II which featured the insignia of German soldiers, but other historic images of the town of Alkmaar were also removed.

    “This is censorship of official material,” said archivist Mark Alphenaar. He told NH Nieuws: “They are accusing of us op inciting hate but we are an official institution.”

    The archive, which was removed on national archive day, was 10 years in the making and includes “often unique” images of wartime Alkmaar. The archive’s YouTube channel is used by schools for educational purposes.

    All the material is backed up on the archive’s own server. It is not the first time the archive has fallen foul of the YouTube policy on “hate-mongering”. An archive photograph of NSB leader Anton Mussert was removed for the same reason a year ago.

    “We wrote to YouTube and complained but we never received a reply,” Alphenaar said.

    YouTube’s new policy is aimed at rooting out conservatives, but thousands of Dutch users protested to YouTube owner Google against the ban nad the archive was back online on Monday again.

    “If videos are wrongly removed, we will take action quickly,” spokesman Mark Jansen told the broadcaster. “One of the things we look at is whether the footage has educational or news value – and this context is of great importance in determining if a video has a place on YouTube.”

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