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Dutch populist lawmaker slams his trial as 'charade'

Published:Thursday | November 24, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Dutch populist lawmaker slams his trial as 'charade'

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP):

Populist anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders delivered a fiery closing statement yesterday at his hate-speech trial, slamming his prosecution as a "charade, a disgrace for the Netherlands, a mockery for our society" that threatens freedom of speech.

Wilders, whose party is riding high in Dutch opinion polls, told a three-judge panel sitting in a heavily guarded courtroom on the outskirts of Amsterdam that, as an elected lawmaker, he must be able to talk about the "mega-Moroccan problem" in the Netherlands and would not be muzzled by what he branded a political trial.

In an address that sounded as much like a campaign speech ahead of Dutch parliamentary elections due in March as a legal defence, Wilders cast himself as part of a swelling global anti-establishment movement that already has revealed itself in the British vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election.

"Worldwide, a movement has started that is making short shrift of the politically correct doctrines of the elite and their subordinate media," Wilders said. "Brexit proved it. The American election proved it."

And, turning to upcoming elections and votes across Europe, he added that, "It is about to be proven in Austria and Italy. Next year it will also be proven in France, Germany and, yes, also in the Netherlands."