Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Judicial Bias in the Geert Wilders Trial

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The new trial for Geert Wilders begins on February 7. In anticipation of what is to come, our Flemish correspondent VH has translated an article about the badly administered and compromised nature of the court system that tried Mr. Wilders the first time.

VH includes this note:

The enclosed news bulletin shows how important it is, with every inquisition-trial, to research and publish all details that can be squeezed out, and jump on top of the court involved — judges and accusers alike — using all blogs available.

His translation from Het Parool:

Judges in Wilders trial succumbed to media pressure

"The effect of challenging a court in an intensive and demanding trial such as this, and on top of that, in front of the eyes of the nation, is much larger than normally is the case"

by Albert de Lange

In the trial against Geert Wilders, the criminal chamber [of the Amsterdam Court], which was removed from the case after having been challenged for “creating the impression of being biased”, has been under heavy pressure due to the media attention and public opinion. The chamber was not sufficiently guided and has not understood well that its actions would be very critically examined on political bias.

These are the main conclusions of the Meijerink Commission [report in Dutch: pdf], partly an external group of experts, commissioned by the court administration to examine the organizational approach of the criminal case against Wilders. The committee also criticized the overly hasty composition of the second challenge-chamber on October 22 that took the judges off the case. In that challenge-chamber a judge was seated who was a direct colleague of one of the judges in the criminal chamber.

Crisis

The challenging has led to a crisis within the criminal law division of the court. President Jan Moors and the two other members of the criminal division felt compromised in their integrity — because of the cameras present during the challenge-session, they did not attend it — and along with those feelings, according to the commission, felt abandoned and not cared for.

“The effect of challenging”, according to the commission, “in an intensive and demanding trial such as this, and on top of that in front of the eyes of the nation, is much larger than is normally the case.” The court administration has offered too little support and provided no backing to the three judges towards the outside world, by observing media silence. The court administration also commissioned the report to meet the internal complaint that they stand up too little for their own people.

The challenged judges did find support in an internal critical review by Diederik Aben, Advocate General at the Supreme Court, which made mincemeat of the motivations to challenge. The discarded members of the criminal division felt need to justify themselves, and through them the review by Aben came into the open, which is highly unusual, after which Aben hastened to declare that he had written the review in a personal capacity.

Permanent challenge-chamber

Only during the first three session days of the trial was a challenge-chamber kept at hand. When Wilders’ lawyer Bram Moszkowicz near the end of the trial made a second attempt to challenge the court, after it refused to immediately hear Arabist Hans Jansen, in no more than one hour an ad-hoc challenge-chamber had to be composed, because there was no longer one on standby. The Commission finds that in a case such as this, there should be a permanent challenge-chamber ready to assist.

Carla Eradus, president of the Amsterdam Court,[1] agrees with this: “It is simply not thought about,” she said in an interview in [the print edition of the newspaper] Het Parool. “Now all of a sudden an ad-hoc chamber had to be composed, and then colleagues from the same corridor came face to face with each other. This has brought the emotions very close to the coffee machine.”

Notes:

The trial, with new — and now already controversial — judges, will resume Monday, February 7.

[1] The president of the Amsterdam Court, Carla Eradus, is also chairman of the left-wing anti-Wilders broadcaster VARA, and is nicknamed “the Monster of Amsterdam” due to corruption and nepotism (source).

2 comments:

Richard said...

And the show trial to intimidate the people begins again, but this time the question is who is being intimidated?

4Symbols said...

In hoc signo vinces

the badly administered and compromised nature of the court system

As with the Elisabeth’s case there has been some dismay at court procedure and incompetence. This may not be seen as only peculiar to these cases but common in crimminal courts throughout the West, possibilly a sign of the contemptuous nonchalance to Western values displayed by a bureaucratic elite.

Obviously this never comes to the attention of most people until cases like Elisabeth’s and Geert's.