Mister President, members of the Court. I recently tried to have Your Honors removed from the case for your refusal to register a statement of perjury against Mr. Hendriks. My challenge of the court did not succeed. I must accept that. I do wish to say, however, that I was more annoyed by another declaration of the President of the Court on the day of the official hearing of Mr. Jansen. He said that I was a free man, that I could not be compared to Mr. Nekschot because I was a free man.
Mister President, you could not be more wrong. For almost seven years now, I have not been a free man. I lost my freedom in 2004. I live as a prisoner with guards without you having convicted me. Without protection I am even less certain of my life than I am now. Mister President, you would not use the words “free man” if you could change places with me for one week.
Mister President, members of the court, I am here as a suspect again today. I have said so before: This penal case is a political trial. An attempt is being made here to silence a politician who speaks on behalf of one and a half million people and who already pays a heavy price for that every single day. Formally, only I stand on trial here, but in practice the freedom of speech of millions of Dutchmen is on trial.
This trial is not merely a political trial. It is also an unjust trial. When you look at the order of the court (to prosecute me) it is clear that the verdict has already been passed. The court has issued an order to prosecute me in which it concludes that I am guilty of incitement to hatred. The court has concluded that my statements as such are of an insulting nature. The court has concluded that I am guilty of the most serious charge: the incitement to hatred and discrimination. The court has concluded that it expects that the criminal prosecution will indeed lead to a conviction. Mister President, members of the court, the court has already done your job. Long before I was brought to trial before you, I was found guilty and was condemned. Hence my right to a just trial has been violated.
Alas, this is but the tip of the iceberg. Without any doubt, the judges who presided this case have conveyed a semblance of partiality. I have been denied 15 of the 18 witnesses whom I wanted to call. Every high representative of the judicial power has given his view on this case, and often to my disadvantage. But Counselor Schalken was the worst.
Counselor Schalken, who co-authored the decision to prosecute me, makes a habit of discussing my trial and arguing his case at elegant dinner parties for intellectuals. Counselor Schalken dined with my witness, Mr Jansen – note that he was one of the only three witnesses whom I was allowed to call – three days before Mr. Jansen was to be interrogated by the court. During this dinner Mr. Schalken TRIED to influence Mr Jansen. The fact that he did not succeed is irrelevant.
Mr. President, members of the court, stop this unfair, political trial. Respect our Dutch freedoms. If this trial continues, despite the fact that the principle of the presumption of innocence has been violated, and if I am convicted, not only my freedom will be infringed, but also the right of all Dutch people to hear the truth. The 19th century black American politician Frederick Douglass, the son of a slave, put it as follows: “To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.”
Mr. President, members of the court, I end with a quote of George Washington, who said: “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” Mr. President, members of the court, do not let this warning become reality. Stop this charade, this political trial where I have already been convicted by the court even before I was a suspect. Stop it now. If you do so, and I passionately hope you will, this will benefit freedom of speech as well as the respectability of the judicial power and the rule of law.