A Dutch appeals court on Friday upheld far-right leader Geert Wilders’s conviction for collectively insulting Moroccan people, but struck down another charge of inciting discrimination.
The court also imposed no punishment over the charge, which relates to a 2014 political rally where Wilders asked supporters if they wanted “fewer or more Moroccans” in the Netherlands and the crowd chanted, “Fewer! Fewer!”
In a case being closely watched ahead of elections next year, the peroxide-blonde leader of the anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV) had earlier dismissed the case as a “political trial” and framed it as debate about free speech.
“The court considers it proven that Mr Wilders is guilty of group insult on March 19, 2014. The court will not impose any punishment or measure on him for this,” judge JM Reinking said.
“He is acquitted of the other facts.”
Wilders, who had previously been convicted in a trial in 2016 of group insult and inciting discrimination, said he would appeal against the latest judgement.
His party is the second largest in the Dutch parliament after the Liberal VVD party of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
The anti-Islam leader said on Twitter in advance of the verdict that it would decide if the Netherlands had “become a corrupt banana-republic where the leader of the opposition is sentenced in a political trial”.
He also complained that the judgement was being handed down at a heavily secured court near Schiphol airport “while Moroccans who set our cities on fire usually get away with it and never see the inside of a court”.