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Dutch prosecutors call for partial Wilders acquittal

Prosecutors in the trial of anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders say he should be acquitted of group defamation.

The populist Dutch MP is standing trial for defamation of Muslims as a group because of his comparison of the Qur’an to Hitler’s Mein Kampf. He is also charged with inciting hatred and discrimination.

Public prosecutors Birgit van Roessel and Paul Velleman now say his comments on the Qur’an referred to Islam and its holy book, and not to Muslim people.

In explaining their call for acquittal on the defamation charges, the prosecutors also explained that statements contained in the MP’s film, Fitna, referred to Islam as a religion and not to its followers. Even though the statements could hurt the feelings of Muslims, that was not the same as defamation of the group.

On Friday, the prosecutors will either press for Mr Wilders to be found guilty on the incitement charges or for him to be acquitted. If they call for a guilty verdict, they will also put forward what they consider an appropriate sentence.

 

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