Dutch Court Rejects Wilders Push to Change Judges at Muslim-Insult Trial

The Amsterdam district court rejected a request by Freedom Party Leader Geert Wilders, who is on trial for inciting hatred and insulting Muslims, to replace the judges hearing his case because they may be prejudiced.

“There are no weighty indications that the judges have given the impression of being prejudiced,” Judge Frans Bauduin, who was brought in to rule on the impartiality question, said at the court today. The trial, which was halted yesterday, will continue with the current judges tomorrow at 9 a.m. local time.

Presiding Judge Jan Moors yesterday, on the first day of the trial, told Wilders the court “reads newspapers and watches television” and that Wilders has been blamed by others for being “good in taking a stand and then avoiding a discussion.” By choosing not to testify “it seems you’re doing that today as well.”

Wilders, who has agreed to support the country’s new minority government, challenged the impartiality of the three- judge panel because of what Moors said, claiming “a fair trial isn’t possible anymore.”

“The words used by the presiding judge in that last sentence were chosen unfortunately,” Bauduin said. “They’ve given the requestor a wrong impression.”

Wilders, 47, is being prosecuted after complaints following a 2007 Dutch newspaper editorial he wrote that called the Koran “fascist” and compared it to Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf. A year later, he released the movie “Fitna,” in which he calls on Muslims to rip out “hate-preaching” verses from the book.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jurjen van de Pol in Amsterdam at jvandepol@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Fraher at jfraher@bloomberg.net.

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