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Dutch court dismisses judges for bias in politician's trial for anti-Islam statements

A Dutch court panel on Friday dismissed the presiding judges in the trial of right-wing politician Geert Wilders [personal website; JURIST news archive] in response to claims of judicial bias. Earlier this month, the court rejected Widlers' claims of judicial bias that were fueled by his accusation [JURIST reports] that a judge's remarks cast him in a negative light to the jury. The panel considered these previous accusations, along with the judges' recent postponement [RNW report] of a decision on the defense request to re-call a witness, finding an indication of bias and dismissing the judges. The replacement judges will subject Wilder to a new trial because the new judges were not in attendance at the previous hearings. If convicted on the charges of making anti-Islamic statements, Wilders faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail.

Wilders is known for calling Islam "fascist," comparing the Quran to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf and advocating prohibiting Muslims from immigrating to the Netherlands. Earlier this month, he announced [JURIST report] that the Dutch government will attempt to ban the burqa [JURIST news archive] and other full Islamic veils to secure the support of his Freedom Party in forming a coalition government. An Amsterdam trial court ruled in February held that it had jurisdiction to try Wilders for anti-Islamic statements. The court rejected [JURIST report] Wilders' claim that he should be tried by the Supreme Court as a member of parliament, finding that his alleged crime was committed outside his capacity as an MP. Wilders claimed that his right of freedom of speech was guaranteed to him as a Dutch man first, not a politician.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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