March 30, 2011 / 9:36 AM / 7 years ago

Dutch court rejects Wilders trial plea

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch court ruled on Wednesday it would go ahead with the trial of politician Geert Wilders on charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims, rejecting a request to dismiss the case.

<p>Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders is seen inside a courtroom in Amsterdam, March 30, 2011. REUTERS/Koen van Weel/Pool</p>

Wilders was charged with insulting Muslims by comparing Islam to Nazism. The case has attracted considerable attention, not just because of Wilders’ controversial comments, but also because of the increasing influence of his Freedom Party, which provides support for the minority government on key issues.

Wilders has argued that he is exercising his freedom of speech when he criticises Islam and had won the right last month to seek a dismissal of the case.

But reading out the ruling on Wednesday, presiding judge Marcel van Oosten said the case would go ahead. He rejected most of the defence’s objections such as its questioning of the court’s authority to hear the case in the first place and of the way that the prosecutors had pursued the trial.

Following a brief adjournment, judges, prosecutors and the defence agreed for the trial to resume on April 13 with key witness testimony. A ruling could then be handed down in summer.

Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block

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