Pakistani ex-cricketer sentenced to 12 years for inciting violence against dutch politician Geert Wilders

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Former Pakistani cricket player Khalid Latif has been sentenced to 12 years in prison by a Dutch court for inciting violence against far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders. The court’s decision was delivered on Monday.

Latif, aged 37, had publicly offered a reward of 21,000 euros ($22,500) for anyone who would harm Geert Wilders after the controversial politician announced plans to organize a caricature competition featuring Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). The competition was later canceled.

The presiding judge, G. Verbeek, stated that it was reasonable to assume that Latif’s call to harm Mr. Wilders could incite violence against him around the world. The judge emphasized that Latif was aware of this and that his actions had added to the threat against Wilders’ life.

Geert Wilders, aged 59, is a prominent figure in European far-right politics and has played a significant role in shaping the immigration debate in the Netherlands, despite never holding a government position. His Freedom Party (PVV) is the third-largest party in the Dutch parliament and serves as the main opposition party. Wilders has been under continuous police protection since 2004.

It is highly unlikely that Khalid Latif, who was convicted in absentia, will serve his sentence, as Dutch authorities have unsuccessfully attempted to question him about the case and have sought legal assistance from Pakistan without success.

The plan to host the caricature contest in the Netherlands received widespread criticism, with politicians, local media, and the general public condemning it for needlessly provoking the Muslim community.

Judge Verbeek highlighted that Latif’s video not only targeted Wilders personally but also posed a threat to the fundamental concept of freedom of speech in the Netherlands.

Khalid Latif had represented Pakistan in five one-day internationals and 13 T20 internationals. In 2017, he was banned from cricket for five years due to his involvement in spot-fixing during a Pakistan Super League match in Dubai. His last appearance for Pakistan was in a match against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi in September 2016.