Dutch politician Geert Wilders was visibly annoyed when he failed to get what he asked for from the three judges hearing his case at the Amsterdam District Court.
Mr Wilders, through his lawyer Bram Moszkowicz, had requested that 17 witnesses testify as part of his defence against charges that include inciting hatred of Muslims and non-western immigrants.
Among others, Mr Wilders had asked that Mohammed Bouyeri, the convicted murderer of Theo van Gogh, be called as a expert witness.
The judges, however, will not allow Bouyeri to testify. They have also ruled that other ‘Muslim extremists’ on Mr Wilders’ ‘wishlist’ will not be allowed to testify. The list includes Fawaz Jneid, imam at the Soennah Mosque in The Hague, and Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, chairman of the Guardian Council in Iran.
Mr Wilders will be permitted to call three experts on Islam, out of the total of eight he had actually asked for. However, two ex-Muslims called by his defence team – in part to give their personal view about the impact of Islam – were also rejected.
In their ruling, the judges say Mr Wilders will have ample opportunity to tell the court whether he agrees with their decision to disallow some of his chosen witnesses
Staying in Amsterdam
The Amsterdam judges also ruled that they have jurisdiction in the case. Mr Moszkowicz had asked that the trial be moved to The Hague, since most of Mr Wilders’ statements were made there.
Geert Wilders was visibly displeased with the rulings of the court, shaking his head repeatedly during the brief announcement.
Reacting to the rulings later, Mr Wilders told journalists outside the courtroom, “This court doesn’t seem to be interested in the truth. I can only conclude that the court is not going to let me have a fair trial. I have no respect for this.”
Mr Wilders bases his defence on his right to freedom of expression. He feels an important element in that respect is that in exercising that right he has in fact been telling the truth about Islam. So, in order to prove that what he says about Islam is true, Mr Wilders says he needs all of his witnesses.
However, some feared that had the judges allowed all seventeen defence witnesses, the trial would become a judgment on Islam, rather than a judgment on whether or not Geert Wilders has incited hatred.
Mr Wilders lawyer Bram Moszkowicz says the judges have overestimated themselves, and “when a judge overestimates himself, I get worried.”
The proceedings have now been adjourned until further notice.