Dutch Politician's Trial for Alleged Hate Speech Begins

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Geert Wilders, a politician in the Netherlands, finally has his day in court. His trial began Monday for alleged hate speech against Islam.

Wilders' popularity in the European country is at an all-time high. Prosecutors say he incited hatred against Muslims with remarks comparing Islam to Naziism and by calling for a ban on the Koran.

The Dutch politician argues he has a right to freedom of speech. If convicted, Wilder could face up to a year in prison.

On his Twitter account, Wilders said the start of his trial was a "terrible day."

"The freedom of expression of at least 1.5 million people is standing trial together with me," he wrote, referring to the voters that made his Freedom Party the third-largest in national elections in June.

But his lawyer, Bram Moszkowicz, told presiding judge Jan Moors at the start of the trial that Wilders would not answer questions during the trial. Moszkowicz accused one the judges of being biased and said a fair trial impossible.  

"My client will, at my advice, exercise his right to silence today, tomorrow, and the other days," Moszkowicz said.

Moors then adjourned the case to consider a request from Wilders to explain his decision not to speak.

The case has generated huge interest in the Netherlands, and the opening was broadcast live on television. The trial is expected to last seven days.

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