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Dutch court orders resumption of Wilders race hate trial

After months of adjournments and objections, a Dutch court has given the go-ahead for the race hate trial of Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders, who faces charges including inciting hatred.

Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders

Wilders now commands a strong position in the Dutch parliament

A court in Amsterdam ordered the race hate trial of Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders to go ahead Wednesday. The proceedings are to resume on April 13 with key witness testimony.

The trial had been adjourned on Monday after Wilders' lawyers raised questions over the competence of the Amsterdam court to preside over the case and requested it be moved to The Hague.

His lawyers had also questioned the impartiality of the judges. Both claims were dismissed.

The trial opened in October last year, but was abruptly halted three weeks later when the judges trying him were ordered to step down by a panel of their peers who upheld the politician's claims of bias. A retrial began last month.

Discrimination or debate?

Wilders is charged with five counts of offending and inciting hatred against Muslims and groups of non-Western origin, particularly Moroccans.

A screenshot from Wilders' film Fitna

Wilders' film Fitna painted a bloody image of Islam

The 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".

Wilders said his comments are part of legitimate political debate, although opponents have said they have led to discrimination against Muslims.

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' anti-Islam Freedom Party is now in a key position in the Dutch parliament and has agreed to back coalition legislation in return for a say in policymaking.

Author: Darren Mara (AFP, AP, dpa)
Editor: Rob Turner

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