Court Orders Trial of Dutch Anti-Islam MP to Go Ahead


A court on Wednesday ordered the race hate trial of Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders to go ahead.

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.

But the Amsterdam court on Wednesday dismissed the MP's objections that the court and prosecutors were not competent to try him because the alleged offenses were not committed in Amsterdam.

"The trial will continue," chief judge Marcel van Oosten told the court.

Wilders, 47, faces five counts of giving offence to Muslims and of inciting hatred against Muslims and people of non-Western immigrant origin, particularly Moroccans, in numerous public statements since October 2006.

Wilders has called Islam "fascist", likened the Koran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and campaigned for a ban on the burqa and the building of new mosques in the Netherlands.

He shot to international notoriety in 2008 with the release of his short film, "Fitna", which mixes Koranic verses with footage of extremist attacks.

Wilders lawyers claimed that the film was released on the Internet in the United States and was not released in Amsterdam but van Oosten said the even so it was aimed at a Dutch audience.

"The film is, when you take into account its contents and sub-titles in the Dutch language, destined for a Dutch audience," he told the court.

The MP, whose Party for Freedom gives parliamentary support to a right-leaning coalition, faces up to a year in jail or a 7,600 euro (10,300 dollar) fine for comments made in his campaign to "stop the Islamisation of the Netherlands".