The four professors (left to right): Ellian, Zwart, Sackers and De Roos (image printscreen De Pers)
The trial of Geert Wilders is about to reconvene, and although the proceedings are pre-cooked — “railroading” is probably too mild a term for what is being done to Mr. Wilders — some of the most prominent legal scholars in the Netherlands have spoken out against the case.
Our Flemish correspondent VH has translated an article on the topic from Elsevier:
Law scholars want Geert Wilders acquitted
Four law scholars are strongly opposed to the prosecution Geert Wilders being prosecuted for hate speech. Thus, in their opinion, the PVV leader must be acquitted. “This prosecution does not befit a civilized country.”
So says Tom Zwart, Professor of Human Rights at the Utrecht University, in an interview with the free newspaper De Pers.
Tom Zwart is backed by three other law scholars: Theo de Roos, Professor of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure at the University of Tilburg; Henny Sackers, Professor of Administrative Sanctions Law at Radboud University in Nijmegen, and Elsevier blogger Afshin Ellian, Professor of Social Cohesion, Citizenship and Multiculturalism at the Leiden University.
The four professors believe that the prosecution should never have taken place, and plead — now that he has to appear in court — for acquittal. The trial against Wilders will resume next month.
Theo de Roos: “What I have a big problem with is that the ruling of the Court does not judge the one-liners of Wilders in their context. If you do, you can see he has a consistent story about protecting Dutch culture against Islam. You may find that evil or ridiculous, but it is a contribution to the public debate. “
“What do you say now with those proceedings to all those people who voted for the PVV? Actually you say they must also be put behind bars,” Tom Zwart says.
The four interviewees were to have been called as witnesses by Wilders, but the judges ruled otherwise. They consider themselves to have “learned enough” and a sufficient number of articles by others.
By giving an interview, they hope to still be able to exert influence on the criminal court. “We may among ourselves think differently about the content of Wilders’ statements, but we are looking at this as law scholars. And it comes down to this: you do not have to agree with what Wilders says, to find that he may say that,” Afshin Ellian says.
Wilders must answer a charge of hate speech in court. He is accused of insulting Muslims and ethnic minorities and incitement to discrimination and hatred.
Initially the Public Prosecutor (OM) in Amsterdam did not want to prosecute the politician, because he made those statements in newspapers and on the internet as part of the public debate.
The court in Amsterdam, however, thought differently, and saw possible offenses in Wilders’ remarks about Islam. The proceedings for a judgment of fact were started by the anti-racism Club “Netherlands Admits Color”, headed by René Danen [the extreme left agitator — translator].