Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders, set to become a shadow partner in the next Dutch government, went on trial Monday accused of inciting racial hatred against Muslims.The trial was soon adjourned.
The controversial politician with his signature shock of dyed-blonde hair risks up to a year in jail or a 7,600-euro fine for calling Islam "fascist" and likening the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf.
The hearing in Amsterdam was opened by presiding judge Jan Moors shortly after 9:00 am (0700 GMT) with Wilders seated in the front row of the courtroom next to his advocate Bram Moszkovicz.
Wilders, 47, is charged with five counts of giving religious offence to Muslims and inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims and people of non-Western immigrant origin, particularly Moroccans.
In comments made between October 2006 and March 2008 in Dutch newspapers and on Internet forums, prosecutors say that Wilders described Islam as "the sick ideology of Allah and Mohammed" and its holy book as "the Mein Kampf of a religion that seeks to eliminate others".
The hate speech trial of Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders was adjourned for 24 hours shortly after opening in Amsterdam on Monday as he called on the judges to recuse themselves on the grounds of bias.
"We will now retire to consider" Wilders' application, said judge Frans Bauduin, the chairman of a special panel of judges hastily convened to hear the recusal bid that interrupted Wilders' trial.
A ruling on the recusal is to be made at 2:00 pm (1200 GMT) on Tuesday, said Bauduin.
After a brief initial statement in the morning in which he defended his right to free speech, Wilders announced to the court that he would invoke his right to remain silent and not answer any questions.
This moved presiding judge Jan Moors to observe that Wilders has often been accused in the media of making wild statements and then avoiding the discussions they evoked, adding "it seems as if you're doing it again".
Wilders then sought the recusal of Moors and his two assistants, claiming they had demonstrated bias against him.