Wilders trial to be repeated

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Anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders will get a new trial with fresh judges after his lawyer had the current ones dismissed for prejudice and bias. 

Mr Wilder's defence lawyer, Bram Moszkowicz, challenged the trial judges after newspaper reports that Tom Schalken, a judge of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal, had allegedly tried to influence Arabist Hans Jansen, one of Mr Wilders' expert witnesses. The judge and the witness met at a dinner on 3 May, three days before he was due to be heard as expert witness.

According to article 285a of the Dutch Penal Code, influencing a witness is punishable by up to four years in jail.

Mr Schalken is one of the judges who ordered the Public Prosecutor to try Mr Wilders for group insult, inciting hatred and discrimination. The Public Prosecutor had previously refused to bring legal action against Mr Wilders.

Mr Wilder's defence lawyer, Bram Moszkowicz, wanted to call Mr Jansen as an expert witness for a second time. The judges refused the request, saying they would review it in two weeks' time. In response, Mr Moszkowicz requested the judges to be dismissed. The court's special review panel ruled that the judges had created an appearance of bias and therefore had to be replaced.

The review panel said the appearance of bias had also been created on at least one prior occasion, when the presiding judge said he had the impression Mr Wilders refused to argue his case by claiming the right to be silent. 

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