COPENHAGEN: A Dutch court sentenced a Pakistani man to 10 years behind bars on Monday for planning to assassinate anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders after the MP announced a cartoon competition depicting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The man, identified as Junaid I. by local media, was arrested in August 2018 at a train station in The Hague after he posted a film on Facebook in which he said he wanted to “send Wilders to hell” and urged others to help.
Judges at The Hague’s district court found the 27-year-old man, who had travelled from France, guilty of “planning a murder with a terrorist motive” and “incitement to commit a terrorist deed”.
“The suspect more than once said that Wilders’ death would be a good deed,” said presiding judge Jan van Steen, who added four years in jail to the six years sought by the prosecution.
“Furthermore, the suspect wanted to commit the murder in one of the parliamentary buildings, the heart of Dutch democracy,” Van Steen said. The suspect had denied any terror-related motives.
He said during the trial that he was “peace-loving” and had only travelled to the Netherlands from France to protest against Wilders’ cartoon competition.
The Facebook video was seen by more than 153,000 people and shared 14,000 times.
Far-right leader Wilders cancelled his plans two days later to stage the cartoon competition, a move that angered many Muslims, particularly in Pakistan where widespread protests were held.
Wilders, 56, known for his peroxide bouffant hairdo and firebrand anti-immigration and anti-Islamist statements, lives in a safe house and has been granted 24-hour protection by the Dutch state.
The court did not say how Junaid I. planned to kill Wilders but found that in a bugged phone call after his arrest he said he took “specific things with him […] without which his mission would not be complete”. He had also walked around with a “large backpack, which he did not have when he was arrested” and lied about what it contained, the judges said.