Retrial Ordered in Wilders Hate Speech Case

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A court in the Netherlands has ordered a retrial in the hate speech case of Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders.
     
Wilders called for judges at the Amsterdam District Court to be dismissed after they refused to recall defense witness Hans Jansen, who said a member of an appeals panel directly involved in the case had improperly contacted him.

"He kept steering the conversation back to the Wilders case," Jansen wrote on his personal weblog. "He tried to convince me that his decision to drag Wilders in front of the Amsterdam District Court was correct."

The court ruled Friday that the politician's objections were valid.   The panel understood Wilders' "fear that the court's decision displays a degree of bias ... and under those circumstances accepts the appeal," Judge G. Marcus said.

Wilders seemed pleased with the court's decision.

"This gives me a new chance on a new fair trial," he said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

"I am confident that I can only be acquitted because I have broken no law but spoke the truth and nothing but the truth and exercised my freedom of speech in an important public debate about the dangerous totalitarian ideology called Islam," he added.

Wilders faces charges of inciting hatred against Muslims with remarks comparing Islam to Naziism and by calling for a ban on the Koran.  Should he be convicted, he could face up to one year in prison.

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