At the beginning of the appeal in the criminal case against Mr Geert Wilders about his remark regarding 'fewer Moroccans', the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (PPS) indicated that it does not completely agree with the verdict of the The Hague District Court of December 9th, 2016. Although the PPS believes that the Court of The Hague was right in convicting Mr Wilders for group insult and incitement to discrimination on 19 March 2014, it also find that the Court should not have acquitted Mr Wilders of two other charges.
According to the PPS, Mr Wilders' remark on 12 March 2014, made at the market in Loosduinen – namely that he represented people who vote for a city with, if possible, also fewer Moroccans – does indeed constitute group insult. According to the PPS, the 'fewer Moroccans' speech on 19 March 2014 in a cafe in The Hague does not only constitute group insult and incitement to discrimination but it also means that Mr Wilders incited to hatred against Moroccans. The PPS believes that Mr Wilders should not only be held guilty for his remarkt, but also be punished. The District Court, however, chose not to impose a sentence.
Moreover, the PPS believes that Mr Wilders deserved to be sentenced for his remarks. The Court, however, did not do so.
On 24 October 2017, in a preliminary argument before the The Hague Court of Appeal, the PPS clarified why an appeal was lodged against the judgment of the Court of The Hague in the case against Mr Geert Wilders. Although the PPS is satisfied with the convictions, it does not agree with the fact that the court partially acquitted Mr Wilders and did not impose a sentence on him.
The remarks on 12 and 19 March 2014
On 12 March 2014 Mr Wilders was interviewed at the market in Loosduinen in The Hague. He said that he represented the people who vote for 'a city with, if possible, also fewer Moroccans'. According to the PPS, this constitutes group insult. The Court, however, acquitted that charge. According to the Court this remark was not intentional, because it seemed to be made casually and was not made during interaction with the public.
The PPS does not agree. Mr Wilders is a professional participant in the public debate and, moreover, he is an experienced politician who is expected to know what he is saying. Neither was he surprised by e.g. a completely unexpected question, so that Mr Wilders can indeed be held responsible for his remark.
Thereupon, on 19 March 2014, at a party meeting in The Hague, Mr Wilders held a speech in which he asked the public whether they wanted 'more of fewer Moroccans'. The public's reaction was 'fewer, fewer', whereupon Mr Wilders said: 'Then that is what we are going to arrange'. According to the PPS, by these utterances, Mr Wilders incited hatred, inter alia by using variousforceful elements such as strong rhetoric, the slogan-like character of the speech – used in the election period – the interaction with the room and the use of national audio-visual media.
The Court found Mr Wilders guilty of group insult and incitement to discrimination on 19 March 2014, but did not impose a sentence. In the opinion of the PPS, this was incorrect. The premeditated character of the speech on 19 March 2014, for instance, aimed at a maximum impact, justifies the imposition of a sentence. Moreover, if the remarks go unpunished this would not do justice to convicted persons in similar cases where a sentence was indeed imposed.