A Dutch court has convicted populist anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders of hate speech charges at the end of a trial he branded a politically motivated “charade” that endangered freedom of speech.
Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said Friday the court would not impose a sentence on Wilders, saying that the conviction was punishment enough for a democratically elected lawmaker.
Wilders was not in court for the verdict that came just over three months before national elections. Wilders’ Party for Freedom is currently narrowly leading a nationwide poll of polls and has risen in popularity during the trial.
Even before the hearing, Wilders vowed not to let a conviction muzzle him.
“Whatever the verdict, I will continue to speak the truth about the Moroccan problem, and no judge, politician or terrorist will stop me,” he wrote shortly before the verdict.