Geert Wilders Acquitted

From de Rechtspraak, the website of the Dutch Judiciary and the Supreme Court of the Netherlands:

Verdict of the Amsterdam district court as regards the Wilders trial, 23 June 2011

Amsterdam, 23 June 2011 – Hereafter, the most important decisions of the district court are summarized. For the integral text, please go to www.rechtspraak.nl …

Allegations
The writ of summons contains utterances from interviews, an opinion article, an internet column and a movie (Fitna). By expressing these utterances, the public prosecution accuses Wilders to be guilty of the following:
1. Group defamation by insulting a group of people (Muslims) based on their religion
2. Incitement to hatred against people (Muslims) based on their religion
3. Incitement to discrimination of people (Muslims) based on their religion
4. Incitement to hatred against people based on their race
5. Incitement to discrimination of people based on their race….

Punishability of the utterances

The district court has investigated whether the facts which can be attributed to the suspect, are punishable. The district court draws the conclusion that the suspect shall be acquitted from all charges, based on the following examination:

Count 1: This concerns the indictable offence “group defamation”. In order for this offence to be proven, it should be determined whether the utterance concerns “a group of people”, in this case the Muslims. An example of an utterance that has been charged with in this count reads as follows: “The foundation of the problem is the fascist Islam, the sick ideology of Allah and Mohammed as laid down in the Islamic Mein Kampf: the Koran. The texts from the Koran leave little room for imagination”.

It can be deduced from legal history and jurisprudence that criticism as regards religion and criticism as regards the followers of a certain religion are allowed. The district court refers to an important verdict from the Dutch Supreme Court of Justice (Hoge Raad) of 10 March 2009 (LJN BF0655), which has been reached after the realization of the decision in which the prosecution of Wilders was requested. The utterance as referred to above, as well as other utterances from count 1 refer to the Islam. The utterances do not refer to “a group of people” pursuant to article 137c of the Dutch Criminal Code. This results in acquittal.

Counts 2 and 3. These concern the indictable offences “incitement to hatred against and discrimination of people based on their religion”. The district court examined the utterances as charged, among which the movie Fitna as well, one by one. In addition, the district court has reviewed the utterance itself as well as the connection with the remainder of the article from which the quotation derived. Furthermore, the district court reviewed the context in which the utterance should be placed. For example, the context comprises the public debate.

As regards a large number of utterances, the district court determines that these refer to the Islam and, therefore, do not incite to hatred against people or to discrimination of people. Thus, this already results in acquittal.
Sometimes, this can be deduced from the utterance itself, and sometimes from the connection with the remainder of the article. An example of one of these utterances is as follows: “From that tsunami from a culture unknown to us which becomes more and more dominant here. That should be stopped”.
The rule prevails here as well that criticism as regards religion is allowed.

The district court has separately examined the following utterances. First of all, this concerns the utterance: “Those Moroccan boys are truly violent. They beat up people based on their sexual origin. I have never used any violence”.
This utterance is not directed to people based on their religion and, therefore, this shall result in acquittal.

The district court determines that a number of utterances could fall under the scope of “incitement to discrimination”. An example is as follows: “That very same day, the borders close for non-Western residents”. Some other utterances generally have the same meaning. The district court determines that these quotations are allowed because of the context of the public debate in which Wilders utters his statements as a politician. In the Netherlands, the multicultural society and immigration were largely discussed when the suspect uttered these statements. In his view, the suspect raised public problems with his utterances. The utterances do not cross criminal legal boundaries. Therefore, this results in acquittal as well.

Another utterance which has been reviewed separately, reads as follows: “The demographic composition of the population is the largest problem in the Netherlands. I am talking about what comes to the Netherlands and what multiplies here. When you look at the figures and its development…. Muslims will move from the big cities to the countryside. We have to stop the tsunami of islamicism. That stabs us in the heart, in our identity, in our culture. If we do not defend ourselves, then all other items from my program will prove to be worthless”.
As regards this utterance, the district court determines that this utterance, based on the words as used, is blunt and humiliating indeed, but is not subversive and does not incite to hatred or discrimination. Therefore, this shall result in acquittal.

The following utterance has been discussed separately as well. “I have good intentions. We allow something to happen as a result of which this turns into a completely different society. I do know that there is no Islamic majority in a couple of decades. However, the number is growing. With aggressive elements, imperialism. Walk in the street and see where this ends. You feel that you are no longer living in your own country. A conflict is going on and we have to defend ourselves. In due time, there are more mosques than churches!”

As regards this utterance, the district court determines that the suspect has given the impression with this utterance that the increase of the number of Muslims in the Netherlands bears negative consequences for the society. In addition, he says: “a conflict is going on and we have to defend ourselves”. This has a subversive character. The suspect balances on the border of what is accepted pursuant to criminal law, but viewed in connection with the rest of the interview, in which the suspect stresses that he is not against Muslims but to the Islam indeed, there is no case of incitement to hatred. In addition, the utterance does not incite to discrimination either. Therefore, this results in acquittal.

Fitna
The movie Fitna contains passages which suggest that violence and criminality will increase due to the increase of Muslims in the Netherlands. In this respect, the chance exists as well that these images incite to sentiments of hatred against Muslims. According to the suspect, the message of the movie is the bad influence of the Islam on the western world. In addition, he sends out this message amid the public debate and does so in the movie with shocking and disturbing images. The district court deems that the message of the movie as such should be carried out.
Based on the movie as a whole and the context of the public debate, the district court deems that the movie Fitna is not a case of incitement to hatred. Therefore, Wilders is acquitted.

Counts 4 and 5: These concern the indictable offences “incitement to hatred against and to discrimination of people based on their race”. Together with the public prosecutors and the legal counsel of Wilders, the district court determines that it cannot be proven that the utterances by the suspect were done ‘based on religion’ (pursuant to the meaning of article 137d Dutch Criminal Code). These charges shall result in acquittal as well.

Requests of injured parties
Based on the verdict of the case, a complete acquittal, the injured parties are dismissed in their requests….

Thanks to commenter martinned for the pointer. UPDATE: Thanks also to martinned, here’s the court opinion itself, in Dutch. FURTHER UPDATE: Here’s the court opinion, in English.