A Dutch politician of the Anti-Islam Freedom Party goes on trial on charges of inciting hatred against Muslims. It comes at a time when the Party is hopeful of becoming a powerful hand in running the country.
A prominent Dutch anti-Islamist politician appeared in court on Monday to face charges of inciting hatred against Muslims.
Geert Wilders, who plays a controversial but key role in the new Dutch government, is charged on three counts of stirring up hate and discrimination against Muslims in comments to the media and for insulting Muslims by comparing Islam to Nazism.
Wilders told the court he would refrain from speaking during the proceedings and let his lawyer speak on his behalf.
[Geert Wilders, Anti-Islam Freedom Party Charman]:
"I'm not going to say anything more; I will leave it to my lawyer to answer all the questions. I would like to invoke my right to remain silent. I have said what I have said and I will not take one word back."
After this statement, the presiding judge replied that it appeared Wilders was avoiding engaging in debate on the matter, as he has been accused by others of doing before.
Wilders' lawyer objected to the comment, saying it could be construed as bias.
The proceedings were therefore adjourned until the next day so that new judges might be put in place should the court rule in favor of the defense's objections.
Wilder has a 24-hour police guard because of death threats.
If convicted, he could face up to one year imprisonment or a fine.
The trial comes at an awkward time for Wilders, the leader of the Freedom Party.
The party is poised to gain a powerful role in the running of the country should it gain final support of a minority government made up of the Liberals and the Christian Democrat parties.