Dutch court sentences former Pakistani cricketer to 12 years over a bounty for a far-right lawmaker

Dutch court sentences former Pakistani cricketer to 12 years over a bounty for a far-right lawmaker

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch court on Monday sentenced a former Pakistani cricketer to 12 years in prison over allegations that he incited people to kill firebrand anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders.

Khalid Latif, 37, stood accused of offering a bounty of some 21,000 euros ($23,000) to anybody who killed Wilders. Latif did not appear in the high-security courtroom near Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport for the trial and he was not represented by a lawyer.

He’s believed to be in Pakistan, which has no extradition agreement with the Netherlands.

Throughout the trial, Latif was not identified by name, but prosecutors said in a statement that a video posted online in 2018 showed a famous Pakistan cricketer offering the money for killing Wilders. Wilders himself identified the suspect as Latif.

“The court has now ruled that a long-term unconditional term of imprisonment is the only suitable punishment for these types of offenses,” a statement said.

Dutch lawmaker Wilders, who was present for the verdict, has lived under round-the-clock protection for years because of repeated threats to his life sparked by his fierce criticism of Islam.

The alleged bounty offer came after Wilders said he would organize a competition of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Many Muslims consider any depictions of Muhammad to be blasphemous. Ultimately, the contest did not go ahead, but the plan sparked outrage in the Muslim world.

An international warrant has been issued for Latif’s arrest. Dutch prosecutors have said that they had been trying to contact him since 2018, first as a witness and then to answer the charges. However, they said they hadn’t received any reply from the Pakistani authorities.

In 2017, Latif, 37, was banned for five years from all forms of cricket for his role in a match-fixing scandal in the Pakistan Super League.

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