The trial of controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders has been adjourned after only a few hours – when he accused the judges of bias.
Wilders faces five counts of inciting racial hatred with his media comments about muslims.
The presiding judge had accused Wilders of avoiding debate by making this statement:
“I would like to invoke my right to remain silent in court. I have said what I have said and I will not take one word back.”
Wilders’ extreme views have gained ground in the Netherlands – so much so, that he is set to become a minority partner in the country’s coalition government.
Freedom of speech is enshrined in the Dutch constitution – but there are those who say the line must be drawn somewhere:
“In Holland, it is forbidden to offend groups of people and to încite discrimination and hatred.” said a spokesperson for the prosecution.
Wilders’ film “Fitna” features among the evidence.
In it, Islam is described as a “force bent on destroying the West”, there are calls for a tax on headscarves, and an end to Muslim immigration to the Netherlands.
A decision will be made on appointing fresh trial judges tomorrow.