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Europe

Dutch anti-Islam MP to press for dismissal of racial hate trial

A Dutch court has granted right-wing anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders an opportunity to challenge the validity of an inciting hatred case currently against him in the Hague.

Dutch politician Geert Wilders

Wilders has caused a storm since the release of his short film 'Fitna'

A Dutch court has given anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders the chance to challenge the competence of prosecutors seeking to have him jailed over charges of inciting hatred against Muslims.

Judge Marcel van Oosten said Monday that if Wilders could show that the prosecution was unsound, then the case against the far-right politician would be dropped.

"The court finds in this unusual case that space should be given to the defense to repeat its earlier defense arguments to the new judges," the judge said.

"If these objections are successful, and the prosecution is declared incompetent, then the case will be closed and terminated."

Wilders, 47, faces five counts of offending and inciting hatred against Muslims and groups of non-Western origin, particularly Moroccans.

Trial was adjourned

He had originally gone on trial in October last year, but proceedings were adjourned after three weeks, when the judges trying him were ordered to step down over accusations of bias against Wilders.

The nationalist politician has claimed he is being persecuted for his political views. He has likened Islam to fascism and made comparisons between the Muslim holy book, the Koran, and Hitler's "Mein Kampf".

The specific charges against the parliamentarian stem from comments made in his campaign "Stop the Islamization of the Netherlands." Wilders could face a 7,600-euro ($10,300) fine or up to a year in jail if found guilty.

Wilders shot to prominence in 2008 after making the short film, "Fitna", mixing Koranic verses with footage of extremist attacks.

His populist group, the Freedom Party, is the third largest in parliament in the Hague, and is a crucial unofficial ally for the minority coalition government of Christian Democrats and Liberals.

Author: Darren Mara (AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Nicole Goebel

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