Dutch Public Prosecution Service demands 5,000 euro fine in Wilders case
The Dutch Public Prosecution Service have demanded a 5,000 euro fine against Geert Wilders today. According to the Public Prosecution Service, Wilders committed the offences of insulting Moroccans as a group on 12 March 2014 and, on 19 March 2014, of insulting Moroccans as a group and inciting hatred of and discrimination against Moroccans.
On the former date, Wilders spoke at the market in the Loosduinen district of The Hague. On the latter, he held his 'Fewer-fewer' speech in The Hague on the occasion of the municipal elections. At both events, Wilders made a statement about Moroccans as a population group. This group (which is determined by origin) is unchangeable. You simply either belong to it or you do not.
In this context, Wilders did not make any distinction based on behaviour (e.g. criminal behaviour). Wilders' statements therefore concerned the group as a whole. He deliberately cast an entire group of people in a negative light based on their origin and fuelled discrimination against that group. For this reason, the Public Prosecution Service are of the opinion that Wilders' statements of both 12 March 2014 and 19 March 2014 are liable to punishment.
According to the Public Prosecution Service, Wilders' statements of 12 March 2014 care not as serious as those of 19 March 2014. In the former case, it appeared to be a slip of the tongue. This also in view of the the fact that Wilders asked Van Klaveren, a fellow party member, afterwards: 'Could I say it like that?'.
Conversely, Wilders' speech of 19 March 2014 was well thought out in advance and carefully built up. The audience had been instructed beforehand on how to answer the three questions that Wilders was going to ask. The Public Prosecution Service also assume that Wilders knew his speech might contain statements that were punishable under the Penal Code. In the afternoon of 19 March 2014, the Public Prosecution Service informed the PVV party that criminal complaints had been received by the police after his statements of 12 March 2014. Wilders himself also said in his speech: 'I actually cannot say this, because complaints will be filed against you. And there may even be officials who will bring proceedings against you'. In addition, the speech was held in front of various cameras during an election night with the aim of reaching as many people as possible.
All this combined has convinced the Public Prosecution Service that, in his speech of 19 March 2014, Wilders knowingly and wilfully exceeded the boundaries of the permissible. Wilders failed to explain or explained insufficiently, there and then, that he was talking about any specific group of Moroccans – as he claimed in retrospect.
The speech has had a major impact. 6,400 complaints have been filed with the police, children have been jeered at by their peers in the street shouting 'Fewer, fewer' and, up to the present time, some of the people from said group are feeling unsafe in their own country because of Wilders' words: 'Well, we’ll arrange that then'.
The fact that Wilders is a Member of Parliament does not affect the criminal liability of his statements. Members of Parliament must also comply with the law. They have great freedom to say what they stand for but this comes with great responsibility, as well. Especially when it comes to avoiding discriminatory statements, as is shown by earlier court decisions.
The Public Prosecution Service have demanded a fine of 5,000 euro based on earlier court decisions concerning politicians who were prosecuted for insulting population groups and inciting to hatred and discrimination. The court will render judgment in this case on 9 December 2016.