Huge victory in Wilders trial—“biased” judges ordered to step aside!

But the same panel that has ordered the trial to stop, has ordered a new trial, with different judges.

Reader N., who sent the item, calls this good news and bad news. I disagree. I think it’s over. I said last February, when the trial began, proceeded for one day, and then was adjourned for nine months (!) in order to schedule a few witnesses (!), that I thought the trial would never resume. I renew that prediction now.

The story is from the BBC:

Judges told to step down in Wilders trial

Judges in the hate speech trial of Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders have been ordered to step down by an independent appeals panel.

The move follows a request by Mr Wilders’ lawyers who said they feared the judges were biased against him.

The legal process that began in January must now begin again with new judges. The trial itself started in October.

Mr Wilders faces five charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims. [LA replies: weren’t we just told numerous times in recent weeks that there are two charges, one for insulting Muslims, and one for inciting hatred and discrimination?]

If found guilty, he faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail.

Mr Wilders’ lawyer Bram Moszkowicz had argued that the bench at Amsterdam District Court had created “an impression of partiality” by putting off a decision on the defence’s request to recall a witness.

Being denied the opportunity to recall the witness would “make it impossible for the defence to substantiate a crucial part of its case”, he added.

A hastily convened panel said on Friday that it found the trial judges’ decision to be “incomprehensible in the absence of any motivation”. [LA replies: In other words, it’s not the judges’ entire conduct of the case, and their evident desire to nail Wilders, that demonstrates their bias, but only this one technical point of delay in making a decision about recalling a witness? If the presiding judges can be removed from a case over one technical-sounding issue, how can any trial ever be completed, let alone this mess of the Wilders trial? I think it’s over.]

They said that, as a result, Mr Wilders’ fear of bias as a result was “understandable”.

“Under the circumstances, the request (for the judges’ removal) is granted,” said a statement from the panel.

“Another chamber will handle the rest of the case.”

Geert-Jan Alexander Knoops, an international criminal law professor at Utrecht University, told Reuters that the ruling meant there would be new judges and a new date.

“This means that the trial has to start all over again. Not the investigation phase, but the court sessions as the new judges will not have been present at the hearings,” he said.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 22, 2010 12:49 PM | Send

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