Today's De Telegraaf features an extensive interview with Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, leader of anti-Islamization, anti-EU PVV, now polling as the No. 1 political party in the Netherlands.
In a process alarmingly remininscent of old Soviet show trials, Wilders once again must stand trial for exercising his freedom of speech -- the subject of this interview. Backgrounder here.
NB: I have lightly edited the following English translation.
'The verdict seems to be ready'
by Wouter de Winther and Ruud Mikkers
PVV leader Wilders feels provoked. He says he will not get a fair chance to defend himself in the trial in which he is being sued for "group insult" and "incitement to hatred and discrimination." Almost all of his requests to hear experts or to examine whether there has been tampering with the declarations against him have been dismissed. He has appealed, because this way the chance of a fair trial would be reduced to nil.
What are the indications that suggest that you will not get a fair chance at a defense?
"I notice that the judicial authorities get more intransigent as we rise in the polls. At the first meetings, the magistrate still said to me, 'You are entitled to a fair chance, the law will be interpreted broadly. But the opposite has happened. The magistrate uncritically follows the prosecutor. If all reasonable requests are rejected, then they apparently want to convict me at all costs."
Why would Lady Justice suddenly take off her blindfold for Geert Wilders?
"For months, we have been months working on the defense and therefore you suggest that further investigations be conducted. For example, about government ministers who already declared me guilty before the trial had begun, such as [Justice Minister] Opstelten. And we also want to know what has happened with all the pre-printed complaint forms [filed against me]. We have discovered that various forms have same signatures on them! We also want to hear experts, for example about the accusations of racism. A nationality is not a race, so how can I be guilty of racism? I am convinced that if today I ask "Do you want more or fewer Syrians," no one would take offense at that, let alone that there would be complaints would be filed."
But then we are dealing with refugees without a residence permit. Not Dutch citizens who have already been here for thirty or forty years.
"Yes, but I'm talking about the concept of nationality versus race. That is what everyone objected to, while I think that would now no longer be the case. If I would ask, 'Do you want more or fewer Belgians, I do not believe that many people would feel offended. I want to hear the opinion of experts about this. I want to defend myself, but I must also be able to defend myself. The frustrating thing is that we have made 39 requests and zero have been granted. One of them has been kept in deliberation."
During your previous trial, you [made] serious and less serious requests: You asked to hear Gaddafi or invite the Iranian president as a witness. What requests did you do this time?
"I have noticed that the director of a mosque did several complaints with different handwritings but the same signature. Hundreds of complaints were done on forms delivered in that mosque. About such matters I would want to hear the opinion of experts, because this cannot be allowed. I cannot give you all the names, because that information is not public. But, for example, Tom Zwart, professor at the University of Amsterdam, and Professor Paul Cliteur were willing to testify. But they have been rejected. "