Translated from Dutch media by VH with much thanks!
by Johan van den Dongen
Outgoing Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin (Justice) has, from a very early stage, been personally involved in the decision making on whether or not to prosecute Geert Wilders.
This is evidenced by internal e-mail correspondence from 2008, between the public prosecutor’s office in The Hague (the top of the OM) and the public prosecutor in Amsterdam.
The information has quite some piquancy, because in our country the justice minister habitually keeps the necessary distance to prevent exposing the OM to changing political influences. In addition, with this information a different light is shed on the role of Hirsch Ballin as one of the fiercest CDA opponents of tolerating the support Wilders’ PVV [to a new coalition govenrment].
On March 14, 2008, the prosecutor-general and the prosecutor in Amsterdam emailed each other on the advise of Rick Lawson, professor of European Law at the University of Leiden. Lawson was asked by the OM for a mapping on whether prosecuting of Wilders would have a chance. On the last page of his ten pages analysis, Lawson concludes that it is “well-founded to prosecute Wilders”.
This opinion was, with both prosecutors, received with cheers, as can be established form the email correspondence: “What a superb piece!!!!” And: “Monday there will be a meeting with the Minister of Justice about this advise. We will try with all we can to provide as much input as possible to Harm Brouwer (OM chief, ed) for this conversation. Everything is welcome.”
Wilders’ lawyer Bram Moszkowicz is stunned by the internal information. “From this it shows that not only that at the highest ministerial level there has been spoken of the possible prosecution of my client, but moreover that there has been a matter of substantive political involvement in the decision to prosecute.”
Despite Lawson’s analysis, the prosecutor decided not to prosecute Wilders. The court however, later still ordered to do so.
According to a spokeswoman for OM, there is nothing strange about the involvement of Hirsch Ballin. “It is very common for the OM in cases with a social impact, to discusses and exchanges views with the minister. He is politically responsible for the OM and is regularly called to Parliament to explain why things will or will not be prosecuted. ALso when it concerns a prominent politician. The law provided that if the Minister disagrees with the OM, he may give a directive on how to still act otherwise, what in this case has not happened.”