Dutch Public Prosecution Service demands a 12 year prison sentence for issuing reward for the murder of Wilders
Three million rupees. This reward was issued by a famous Pakistani cricket player in 2018 for the person who murders Dutch parliament member Geert Wilders. Today this suspect was summoned to stand trial in the Netherlands for these facts. However, the courtroom seat remained empty. The prosecutor demanded a prison sentence of 12 years for these facts before the court today.
In May of 2018 the Dutch member of parliament and PVV party chairman announced a cartoon contest. People were asked to send caricature drawings of the Prophet Mohammed. The contest lead to many threats and online hatred from abroad, mostly from Pakistan. These threats continue to this day.
One of the threats was traced back to a famous Pakistani cricket player. He posted a video online in which he called upon people to kill "the person who planned this game", and issued a reward of 3 million rupees. At the time this sum was the equivalent of 21.000 euros. In the video he states that the reward would have been higher if he’d had more money.
With his call, the now 37 year old Pakistani, is guilty of attempted inducement of others to commit a criminal offence, sedition and threat to commit violence. Whether the suspect has personally placed the video message online or if others did so is unknown. The prosecutor however states that the circumstances make it clear that it was his intent to have the video be known to the world. The video shows the suspect sitting in front of recording equipment and speaking slowly while looking straight into the camera. There is no evidence to show that the suspect had any intention at any point for the video not to become public. Nor is there any evidence to show that the suspect has tried to retract the video after it became public.
The video message was extra toxic because it was issued during a period in which there was a lot of hatred and anger towards Geert Wilders. The prosecutor brought into memory that during this period there were people willing to act against the politician. In August of that same year a Pakistani national was arrested in The Hague. He had travelled to the Netherlands and had planned to kill Geert Wilders. There is no direct between this case and the video message but the message was widely shared during this time.
This shows that the video message was not just about a fictions scenario but that it potentially reached many people who could feel inspired to act on it. The goal of the video message was to remove a Dutch politician from the public debate so that his message could not be heard anymore. With that, the life of Geert Wilders would have been taken which would have caused insufferable pain to his loved ones. It would also have been an attack on the rule of law itself. The suspect issued a sizeable reward for this attack on both a member of parliament and the rule of the law in the Netherlands.
The suspect did not appear in court on Tuesday. The Public Prosecution Service has been trying to contact him since 2018; first for the purpose of hearing him as a suspect and later in order to summon him before a court of law. This was done through the process of requests for mutual assistance, since the suspect resides outside the Netherlands, in Pakistan. The Dutch authorities have to this day not received any reply on any of the requests for mutual assistance.
The Public Prosecution Service is however confident that the suspect is well aware of the case being handled in court this Tuesday. A summons was sent to Pakistan and the Public Prosecution Service has issued press releases about the case in both Dutch and English. There has been extensive media coverage on the case which show that the suspect was even asked about the case by journalists. The fact that he did not show up in court this Tuesday is of his own choosing.
The Public Prosecution Service is of the opinion that under these circumstances the suspect can be tried and convicted in absentia. There is an international arrest warrant issued which means he can be arrested at any time in order to undergo his sentence once this has been issued by the court. The court is expected to give its ruling in two weeks.