Wilders in court on hate speech charge

Geert Wilders of the Party for Freedom (PVV) and his lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops (L) prior to his trial, at Schiphol, Badhoevedorp, The Netherlands (18 March 2016)Image copyright

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Geert Wilders (left) leads the Party for Freedom

The Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders has appeared in court charged with inciting hatred against Moroccans.

The controversial MP looked relaxed during the hearing at a secure courtroom near Schiphol airport.

Mr Wilders is the leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) and has often spoken out against Islam and immigration to the Netherlands.

His full trial is due to start on 31 October.

The charges date back to a rally in The Hague in March 2014.

Mr Wilders asked supporters if they wanted more or fewer Moroccans there.

When they chanted “fewer, fewer,” Mr Wilders said: “We’ll organise that.”

Prosecutor Wouter Bos told the court that freedom of speech was of great importance, but it was not an absolute.

Mr Wilders’s legal team is demanding an investigation into how its draft opening statement was leaked to a Dutch newspaper.

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Signs including “Pegida: The Netherlands together for Europe” were held outside the court

His lawyer told the judges that the case should be stopped so the investigation into the leak could be completed.

On his way to court, Mr Wilders tweeted: “No one will silence me. No terrorist, no prime minister and no court either.”

In 2011, Mr Wilders was acquitted of incitement after being accused of encouraging hatred towards Muslims.

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