A Dutch court has handed down a 12-year prison sentence to former Pakistani international cricketer Khalid Latif for inciting the murder of anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders. Latif, 37, offered a sum of 21,000 euros ($22,500) in an online video for the head of Wilders after the politician organized a competition for cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. The presiding judge, G. Verbeek, stated that Latif’s call to kill Wilders fueled the fire and posed a real threat to the lawmaker’s life. However, it is unlikely that Latif, who was convicted in absentia, will serve his sentence as Dutch authorities have been unsuccessful in their attempts to question him and secure legal assistance from Pakistan.
Wilders, who has been under 24-hour state protection since 2004, expressed his disappointment that Latif was not present in court and called for his arrest and extradition from Pakistan. The cancellation of the cartoon contest by Wilders came after protests erupted in Pakistan, and he received numerous death threats. The plan to hold the contest had faced widespread criticism in the Netherlands, with politicians, media, and citizens condemning it as needlessly provocative to Muslims.
Judge Verbeek emphasized that Latif’s video not only targeted Wilders personally but also attacked the concept of free speech in the Netherlands. Latif, who played for Pakistan in five one-day internationals and 13 T20 internationals, was banned from cricket for five years in 2017 due to spot-fixing in a Pakistan Super League match in Dubai.