Dutch court sentences Pakistani ex-cricketer who threatened Geert Wilders

Khalid Latif posted a video in 2018 offering three million rupees for the death of the far-right Islamophobe.

Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders
Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders attends the Schiphol Judicial Complex, Badhoevedorp, Netherlands [Piroschka van de Wouw/AFP]

A Dutch court has sentenced a former Pakistani cricketer to 12 years for urging people to murder Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders.

The court on Monday ruled that statements by Khalid Latif should be regarded as incitement to murder, sedition and threat.

The 37-year-old, who was tried in absentia, lives in Pakistan, did not attend any trial stage.

The ex-cricketer previously received a five-year ban from cricket in 2017 over a sports-fixing scandal during a Pakistan Super League match in Dubai.

The Dutch court proved that Latif posted a video in 2018 in which he offered a three million rupees (21,000 euros at the time) reward for the murder of Wilders.

The video came at a time of mass demonstrations against Wilders in Pakistan after he had announced a cartoon contest depicting caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Mohammad.

The competition was later cancelled.

Images of the Prophet Mohammad are forbidden in Islam as a form of idolatry. Most Muslims regard caricatures as highly offensive.

But the Hague district court said that the words Latif used in the video are “explicit”.

Pakistan's Khalid Latif
Pakistan’s Khalid Latif returns to the pavilion after winning the T20 international cricket match between England and Pakistan at The Emirates Old Trafford, in Manchester, northwest England, September 2016 [File: Paul Ellis/AFP]

“He promises to pay a considerable sum of money to anyone who engages in a specific act, namely the killing of Mr Wilders”.

“It is very likely that someone – anywhere in the world – would feel compelled to act on this call,” the court added about the protests where Dutch flags were burned and others called for the death of Wilders.

The prosecution said The Netherlands and Pakistan have no treaties regarding judicial cooperation or extradition, and earlier cooperation requests in this case received no response.

Responding to the decision, Wilders said: “It is a good sentence, but it’s a pity that the accused is not here in court.”

“It is no longer acceptable that the Pakistani authorities refuse to cooperate. I am going to ask the prime minister to ensure that Khalid Latif is arrested in Pakistan and extradited to the Netherlands,” he added.

Wilders is one of Europe’s most prominent far-right leaders and has been a key figure in shaping the immigration debate in the Netherlands over the past two decades despite never being in government.

His Party for Freedom (PVV) is the third-largest in the Dutch parliament and is the main opposition party.

Wilders has lived under constant police protection since 2004.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies