Today saw the 15th day of trial in the suit against Geert Wilders. This session was all about that infamous dinner party, that ultimately led to the dismissal of the previous court of judges, on suspicion of prejudice.
The key players, in order of appearance were:
Prof. Hans Jansen, arabist and student of islam
Prof. Tom Schalken, author of the order to prosecute Wilders
Bertus Hendriks, host of the dinner party at which the previous two met.
Ferdy is unfortunately AWOL and I don’t have a lot of time, so I’ll just give a quick run-down, based on what I gathered from following twitter and the liveblog carried by De Volksrant (NL).
The day started with prof. Hans Jansen in the witness stand. And we were off to a flying start, as prof. Jansen refused to give testimony.This on account that a well-known nutcase, who has threatened Jansen (and Wilders) and has openly called for prof. Jansen to be ‘slaughtered like a pig’, was seated right behind Jansen. Said Jansen: “I’d rather be in a cell than sitting here unarmed with my back turned to this gentleman”. After some to-ing and fro-ing, this man (what was he doing in the courtroom to begin with?) was escorted out of the room.
According to Jansen, Hendriks knew he was to appear in court a few days after the dinner party, when Hendriks extended the invitation. Going to the dinner party, Jansen said, he just knew the topic of the evening would be the Wilders trial. He arrived early and was seated alone at the dinner table, when Tom Schalken appeared, who Jansen did not know at the time. After exchanging some pleasantries, Hendriks came in and introduced Schalken as ‘Do you know that this is the man who wrote the order to prosecute Wilders?’. At that Jansen wanted to leave, for fear of being prosecuted for anything he might say about islam and the koran in the course of the dinner.
Jansen testified that he learned only a few days ago, that a second judge form the Amsterdam court was present at the dinner, deputy-judge Wooldrik. At the party, Wooldrik had introduced himself, but had not mentioned he was deputy judge. Jansen said he would have ruthlessly left the party had he know there were not one, but two judges from the court that was prosecuting Wilders at the party.
At the party, Jansen decided to rethink his planned contribution to the discussion on islam and various verses in the koran. It would have been an unequal contest, with judges there who’d proved themselves capable of ‘grabbing by the neck’ anyone with views not to the liking of these judges.
At the end of the dinner, Tom Schalken revealed from his coat pockets a couple of sheets of paper, with the words ‘This is an important and well written piece’. According to Jansen, he regrets not taking the papers. ‘I cannot say for certain that it was the order, but I expect it was’. Schalken tried to convince Jansen that he ‘as an intellectual’ lowered himself by getting involved with Wilders.
Schalken insisted on the ‘scientific interest’ of his piece. Schalken seemed to seek Jansens approval and respect, ‘an annoying quality to be confronted with’.
He wanted my approval of his magnificent scientific achievement. I thought it was rather pathetic.
Jansen added that Schalken was talking about the order ‘as if it were his love baby’.
During the night, here was some considerable consumption of wine. Jansen, who didn’t drink during the party, estimates 7 or 8 bottles were killed by six people. According to Jansen, Schalken managed to influence him ‘a couple of times’. Jansen says he assumed all those present that night knew that he was to play an important part in the Wilders trial. It was ‘common knowledge’ after all, Jansen said.
The session adjourned for lunch and was resumed at 13:20 with the testimony of Tom Schalken. During his testimony he accused Jansen of starting the discussions of the Wilders trial. Jansen hadn’t read the order, said Schalken, but had a very clear opinion on it. ‘I found that sub-par, scientifically speaking’. Schalken first denies having the order with him, but later admits to having had ‘a part of it’ with him during dinner. But his memory starts to fail as to why and how he arrived at the decision to take it with him.
Schalken maintains he did not know Jansen was about to appear in court, until he sat down for dinner that night. At least, he doesn’t remember knowing it before the dinner party. According to Schalken, the topics of conversation were ‘islam, the koran and islamization’. The order was not to be a topic of discussion, which prompted the question, why Schalken thought it necessary to take a copy of the order with him to the party. According to Schalken, he could not rule out the possibility of this discussion, hence his decision.
It is running late and the court decides, after consulting with Jansen and Hendriks, that all witnesses will return for the next session (coming Friday) at which time Hendriks will give testimony.
Schalken doesn’t remember how he reacted when he learned that Jansen was going to publish about the dinner party. Quotes from a police investigation report, of statements made by Schalken, he also does not remember. At the close of this session, Wilders is allowed to pose a question to Schalken. Wilders asks if Schalken understands that many Dutch think he (Schalken) has conducted himself unprofessionally and scandalously, by sitting down to dinner with Hans Jansen, while Schalken is the author of the order to prosecute Wilders? Schalken admits he understand the perception and regrets things have gotten so far out of hand. He states that Jansen was to be heard about islam during the trial, a topic that did not feature in at the dinner party.
Session adjourned at 18:42. Next session will be Friday, April 15th, 09:00.