Dutch anti-Islam opposition leader Geert Wilders said he had done nothing wrong in a statement read out at the start of his trial on charges of inciting discrimination and hatred of Moroccans on Monday.
The Freedom Party leader was charged over his appearance at a local election rally in early 2014, when he was filmed leading chants for fewer Moroccans in the country and calling them scum.
"It is my right and my duty as a politician to speak about the problems in our country. Because the Netherlands has a mega Moroccan problem," he said in the statement read by one of his lawyers.
Wilders, who could face up to two years in jail and a fine of up to 7,400 euros ($8,100) if convicted, has refused to attend what he calls a political trial.
His statement read in the high-security courtroom near Amsterdam's Schiphol airport dismissed the charges as an attempt to strip him of his free speech.
A verdict is due in December, in the build-up to March 15 parliamentary elections, when Wilders is hoping to unseat Prime Minister Mark Rutte's conservative VVD party, which rules in a fragile coalition with Labour.
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