A Dutch court has handed down a 12-year jail sentence to former Pakistan international cricketer Khalid Latif for his involvement in inciting the murder of controversial Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders. The verdict was delivered on Monday.
The 37-year-old Khalid Latif had offered a sum of 21,000 euros (equivalent to $22,500) as a reward for anyone who would carry out an attack against Wilders. This provocation came in response to Wilders’ contentious plans to organize a caricature competition featuring Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), an event that was subsequently canceled.
Presiding judge G Verbeek emphasized the gravity of Latif’s actions during the court proceedings, stating, “It was not a stretch to think that somebody around the world would have taken heed of the call to kill Mr Wilders. The accused knew this and his call fueled the fire to have Wilders killed.”
Geert Wilders, aged 59, is widely recognized as one of Europe’s leading far-right figures and has significantly shaped the immigration discourse in the Netherlands over the past decade, although he has never held a government position. His Freedom Party (PVV) stands as the third-largest party in the Dutch parliament and serves as the primary opposition party. Due to persistent threats to his safety, Wilders has been living under continuous police protection since 2004.
It is improbable that Khalid Latif, who was tried and convicted in absentia, will serve his sentence. Dutch authorities have made unsuccessful attempts to question Latif regarding the case and have sought legal assistance from Pakistan, all without success.
The proposed caricature contest in the Netherlands faced widespread criticism, with politicians, local media, and the general populace condemning it as a needless provocation of Muslim sentiments.
Judge Verbeek underscored that Latif’s video not only targeted Wilders personally but also posed a threat to the cherished principle of free speech in the Netherlands.
Khalid Latif, who represented Pakistan in five one-day internationals and 13 T20 internationals, faced a five-year ban from cricket in 2017 for involvement in spot-fixing during a Pakistan Super League match in Dubai. His last appearance for the Pakistani cricket team was in a match against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi in September 2016.