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Dutch Anti-Islam Lawmaker Accuses Trial Judge of Bias

Geert Wilders gestures during an interview with The Associated Press in The Hague, Netherlands, 15 Jul 2010 (file photo)

The trial of a Dutch lawmaker accused of inciting hatred against Muslims has adjourned in Amsterdam, shortly after opening.

Geert Wilders on Monday accused the presiding judge of bias, and demanded he recuse himself from the proceedings. After telling the court that his freedom of expression and that of millions of others is on trial, Wilders invoked his right to remain silent. Then, after a reprimand from the presiding judge, Wilders claimed a fair trial was no longer possible.

The court adjourned to consider the point. A separate judges' panel is to render on Tuesday its opinion on the accusation of partiality.

Prosecutors say Wilders called Islam "fascist" and compared the Muslim holy book to Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf. Wilders is a member of the Freedom Party, which is key to the survival of the new minority government in the Netherlands.

Wilders, who faces up to a year in prison, said his comments are within his rights. In 2008, Wilders released the movie Fitna, which mixed images of terrorist attacks with verses from the Quran.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.