Monday, January 18, 2010

Pulling Out the Stops Against Geert Wilders

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Our Flemish correspondent VH has translated another batch of material on the Geert Wilders trial, which begins on Wednesday in Amsterdam. He includes these introductory notes:

There are rumors that the Dutch Minister of Justice, Ernst Hirsh Ballin, who was seen as the key player behind the curtains in the arrest of Gregorius Nekschot in 2008, is also influencing or “steering” the prosecutors in the Wilders trial. Bram Moszkovicz, Wilders’ lawyer, points in that direction between the lines of the De Telegraaf interview below.

Both prosecutors who have been assigned to the Wilders trial, Mr. P. (Paul) Velleman and Miss B. van Roessel, also work for the LECD [National Discrimination Expertise Center] and are being assisted in the Wilders trial by the (policy) employees of the LECD. Paul Velleman is the prosecutor and the head of LECD.

Paul Velleman was the prosecutor who had the cartoonist Nekschot picked up in a raid by ten police officers in the middle of the night, and kept him locked up for more than two days. Quote from H. Numan: “After release, he was told: You can forget about anonymity now. They know who you are.

Paul Velleman has close ties to the anti-discrimination industry and is also in charge of the Justice Ministry department LECD (National Expertise Center against Discrimination).

Below is VH’s translation from the print edition of De Telegraaf, as posted online by GeenStijl:

Advocate for freedom

by Dennis Naaktgeboren

Bram MoszcoviczBram Moszkovicz may be facing the toughest assignment in his career. In the past he has defended top criminals such as Cor van Hout and Willem Holleeder [Heineken kidnappers] and the failed coup d’état leader and former military dictator of Surinam Desi Bouterse. His latest client is no less controversial. PVV leader Geert Wilders is hated, adored, and now also prosecuted. Moszkovicz now has the task of defending Wilders against charges of discrimination, group hatred, and discriminating hatred against Muslims. He did not need to think for long before taking on the assignment; “Wilders says nothing punishable.”

The majestic Amsterdam canal building where the Moszkovicz law firm is housed breathes of grandeur. It is clear: Geert Wilders has chosen one of the top lawyers in the Netherlands. The amiable criminal lawyer (49) made time available between two cases to comment on his strategy for the upcoming trial. He looks relaxed, but knows exactly what he can and cannot say.

In his office his father, the renowned Max Moszkovicz, casts an approving glance. Another painted portrait shows Marlin Brando as the Godfather Don Corleone and hangs on the wall as provocative art. The lawyer is not shy of media attention, as proven by his appearances in TV shows. For the next few months the spotlight will again be on him when he stands alongside Geert Wilders, who must defend himself for his crusade against Islam.

The PVV leader already speaks of a “political trial” and “North Korean circumstances”. If he is convicted, he may be sentenced to nearly two years imprisonment. Moszkovicz will open his entire box of tricks to prevent that from happening. In an exclusive interview with the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the counsel expresses his concern about the prosecution, which he suspects of high-level chicanery.

Did you doubt whether or not you should take on this case?

“I doubted for a short moment, because it imposes a significant drain on my time, but those doubts quickly vanished.”


“It is a challenge. Whoever wins or loses, this case will go down in history as one of the important trials for freedom of expression.”

Do you also support the content of Wilders’ statements?

“I will not comment on that. It is also not important. When defending Bouterse, no one asks whether the defense counsel supports his actions.”

Thus the question whether you vote PVV…

“You may ask me, but I will not answer that.”

In the same way, you would not only have defended Wilders, but also Mohammed Bouyeri?
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“Yes, I could have done that. However, I would not defend someone when I myself cannot operate free of certain thoughts or emotions. I will not defend a Nazi; that I could not do. This is due to private circumstances[1], but it does not detract from the fact that a Nazi also has the right to a defense.”

This is understandable, since you are Jewish and lost both your grandparents in Auschwitz. Yet some people think Mr. Wilders is very extreme; is that not the case with you?

“No, absolutely not. That is a totally inappropriate comparison.”


“The views which Wilders proclaims, whatever you think of them, have nothing to do with the comparison that is sometimes made with the NSB [pre-WWII Dutch National Socialist] body of thought. Let alone with Nazism, absolutely not.”

According to various Muslims, there would be outrage if his statements were about Jews. What do you think of that?

“If the issue were stating that Jews are a subordinate race, then according to me, one may say that. I find it absurd, but I think you may say that in the Netherlands. But the moment you say Jews are a subordinate race and we need to get them out the country with a lot of violence, then that is the limit of what is acceptable or not, by my standards.”

To what extent is that a matter of principle in this case?

“Besides its being a very interesting case from a legal standpoint, I am also personally a big advocate for freedom of expression; you may go very far in this, according to me. Unless you’re inciting to violence; that is the limit I set.”

How harmful might a conviction be?

“The impact transcends the interests of Wilders alone, because it directly affects freedom of speech, and I think that everyone in the Netherlands still regards that as a highly valuable asset. A conviction would mean that you can say much less in the Netherlands.”

Even so, you started a summary procedure against Jort Kelder when he said negative things [like “Mafia buddy”] about you?

“Not because Kelder said that I was a jerk or that I’m ugly or that I am too fat, but because he hit me directly in my current and future function as a lawyer.”

It went further than insulting?

“It was beyond insulting, it was libel. There, the line was crossed. I think this is unrelated to freedom of speech.”

As a lawyer, Moszkovicz also has staunch criticisms of the prosecution. According to him, the Wilders’ statements have been twisted and taken from their context. While the earlier prosecutor did not see reasons to prosecute Wilders, the Amsterdam Court thought differently about it. With a locked-in judgement, the prosecution was forced to prosecute for sowing hatred, discrimination, and insulting a group. According to various experts, Wilders has already been all but condemned by the reasoning of the Amsterdam Court. Moszkovicz also believes that the court “went too far”. “It reads like a damning verdict,” Moszkovicz notes.

Your client speaks of a political process, do you also have that impression?

“I’m obviously in the courtroom every day and do not easily speak in such terms, but I can imagine it from his point of view. If you ask me, I have the certainly impression that the prosecutors[2] must have approval for all they do, from people at the top within the hierarchy of the Public Prosecution. If that is so, as I think, is does go somewhat in that direction.”

That is quite something. Where are you basing it on?

“I cannot tell you that. I have a good source that has given me that impression. I also noticed it in certain conversations I’ve had, of which I first thought: ‘Well, we agree there’, and then I notice that the Public Prosecutor in this case had to go back on what he first told me. These two factors together make it seem that to some extent I can find myself in agreement with what Mr. Wilders said.”

You think that the prosecutor was corrected by someone higher in the hierarchy.


Would that be up to the Minister, do you think?

“If I answered ‘yes’ to that question, I would have to prove that, which I can’t.”

But it is possible that the Minister of Justice, Ernst Hirsh Ballin [CDA, Christian Democrat] has personally intervened in this matter?

“I exclude nothing in this case.”

Something else. Your client wants to use the trial to put the Islam in the dock. Do you cooperate with that?

“My job is to defend Mr. Wilders, not to condemn Islam. Mr. Wilders may take a different angle in the case; I focus on the defense.”

Wilders has announced that he wants to summon radical imams and the murderer of Theo van Gogh, Mohammed Bouyeri. Will you do that?


Moszkovicz brings out a list of witnesses. On it appear, among others names, the Arabist Hans Jansen and the professors Theo de Roos and Afshin Ellian. But also Imam Fawaz Jneid from the As-Sunnah mosque in The Hague, one of the people who filed a complaint against Wilders, and indeed Mohammed Bouyeri.

What do you hope to achieve with that? They will not speak to the Wilders’ benefit…

“Through them, however, one would be able to achieve insight into the thought-processes of radical Muslims.”

That would justify the statements Wilders has made. Then still the Islam is on trial…

“At this point you may think what you want.”

Moszkovicz smiles mysteriously. On Wednesday January 20 the trial will start with a directional session; after that it could last for several months. Moszkovicz is clearly not prepared to put all his cards on the table just yet.

How did Wilders contact you for this case?

“He called me and asked for a conversation and listened to how I thought the matter should be addressed. I think he did that with others, too, and ultimately he chose me.”

Who actually, pays the legal fees?

“That is a professional secret.”

You do not work pro bono?

“That is a professional secret.”

You also are well-disposed.

“That is true, but it is all within the scope of criminal law, whether it be a theft, murder, or incitement to hatred. It is all related to the criminal law, where by the way there are too many lawyers involving themselves with who have too little knowledge of this field.”

Quite a few colleagues are incompetent?

“Too many lawyers think they are competent on the criminal law, while they do not quite rise to that level. That is I think a very negative development and that is what the bar association should do something about.”

What are you thinking of in that respect?

“The bar association should, except for some courses you should follow, apply stringent criteria in determining whether a layer may also practice criminal law.”

As a criminal lawyer, you have proven your professionalism, but do you actually also have political ambitions?

“I must say, when I watch those debates in parliament, it does make me itch sometimes; I have always had that. I do not exclude anything. It is logical that I find it interesting. It is also about the word game.”

Would you aspire to be a member of parliament or only go for the position of Minister?

“I’m not impressed by the level in Parliament. If you ask point-blank, I think a position as Minister appeals most to me.”

So perhaps Minister of Justice in the government of Wilders?

Laughing: “As they say in politics: Never say never. That is the answer I give you now.”

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[1] His father Max Moszkovicz, survived Auschwitz and Mauthausen and lost both his parents, his brother, and his sister.
[2] The prosecutors are P.C. (Paul) Velleman and Miss B.C.C. van Roessel.

Paul Velleman was also involved (to say the least) in the “Nekschot” case:

The investigation of Nekschot was carried out by the National Discrimination Expertise Center (LECD), a bureau of the Public Prosecutor. This body decides on subsidies to anti-discrimination agencies and instructs them. But they also do research for the Public Prosecutor when it comes to discrimination cases.

Now the head of this LECD is one Mr. Paul Velleman. Not entirely coincidentally, this is exactly the same Prosecutor Paul Velleman who gave the order to arrest the cartoonist Nekschot. But to arrest Nekschot, the Prosecutor (Velleman) needed some evidence. Thus, the Prosecutor (Velleman) assigned the LECD (Velleman) to “investigate” the cartoons. After more than three years’ “investigation” the LECD (Velleman) suddenly concluded that an arrest was justified. The LECD (Velleman) now also had complaints in the dossier that were filed with the MDI [Reporting Point Discrimination] that is subsidized and instructed by the LECD (Velleman). Subsequently the LECD (Velleman) sent their report to the Prosecutor (Velleman). The Prosecutor (Velleman) read this “investigation” by the LECD (Velleman) and concluded that the LECD (Velleman) was right. Gregorius Nekschot should be locked up and put down. (source).

Klein Verzet wrote about Paul Velleman:

You could conclude that Paul Velleman is thus a very powerful person. So powerful that he even could start investigating parliamentary member Geert Wilders for producing his Fitna movie even without charges being filed. Nothing new, for Velleman, he is already for years investigating representative Geert Wilders to find any discriminating or racist deemed opinions.

But don’t think he want to just prosecute everybody. Paul Velleman did not want to prosecute the Dutch El Tawheed Mosque after charges were being filed against them. Proof was found that in the mosque it was preached and books where sold that called for violence against disobedient women and gays. They homosexuals they advised should be thrown from high buildings with their heads down. Paul Velleman advised against prosecuting the Mosque. […]”

More on the “Nekschot case” on Klein Verzet here.

H. Numan wrote about Paul Velleman and the possible shill party TON here. I have not checked whether the Amsterdam Court ordered Wilders to be prosecuted after TON was shown in the polls to be unable to compete with the PVV.

On a related note, the following article from (also translated by VH) concerns a new political party whose sole raison d’être is to oppose Geert Wilders

The Hague must allow party “Stop Wilders Now”

The Central Election Office of the Dutch municipality The Hague must accept the party name “Stop Wilders Nu” [“Stop Wilders Now”] in the electoral register. That is what the Council of State has determined.

The polling station had first refused to register the name, because “Stop Wilders Nu” would harm the privacy of PVV leader Geert Wilders. This would be contrary to public order.

“Stop Wilders Nu” (SWN) did not agree and went to the Council of State (which is chaired by the Queen). According to the legal section of the Council of State, a political group is free to choose a name under which to carry out its political body of ideas.

That body of ideas will reflect that the party opposes the political ideas of Geert Wilders.

Public Order

According to the highest administrative judge, the use of the name Wilders in the name of the party without the party PVV leader having given his explicit consent is not in conflict with public order. The SWN party now may use the party name in the forthcoming local elections in March.

The Council of State adds that the ruling does not mean that “Stop Wilders Nu” may effectively participate in the elections in The Hague. The party has yet to hand in a list of candidates meeting the requirements of the Election Law.


Wilders was incensed in his response to the decision. “It can’t really get much crazier now,” he said. “This is really incredible. If I had said something like that, I would already have been showered with hundreds of declarations and ditto court cases.

“The D66 content of the judiciary in this country becomes more and more shocking,” said Wilders, who cannot appeal against the ruling.


“Stop Wilders Now” is relieved that the Council of State has called the central election office to order. Party leader and former TV presenter Frans Schulte hopes that “it is now clear to everyone that we attack Geert Wilders on his ideas, not on his person”.

The party says it wants to avoid the PVV’s taking power in The Hague, “because then the city will be divided into two camps”.

VH adds this note:

In 1968 Frans Schulte founded the left-wing flower-power party PPR (Political Party Radicals) with Erik Jurgens (later PvdA, Labor, Socialists), Bas de Gaay Fortman and Ad Melkert (later PvdA, Labor, Socialists). Later Ad Melkert, as party leader of the PvdA, was involved the demonizing of Pim Fortuyn, which led to Fortuyn’s murder in 2002. After the murder and the following election disaster for his party, the totally incompetent Melkert was given a job far away, in New York at the World Bank (Board of Directors, chair of the Ethics Committee). Melkert there was involved in pushing out World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz.

In earlier elections Frans Schulte of “Stop Wilders Nu” also tried to win election as a candidate for the CDA (Christian Democrats).