Former Pakistan international cricketer Khalid Latif has been awarded 12 12-year jail sentence for inciting the murder of far-right politician Geert Wilders by a Dutch court on Monday.
Latif, 37, had offered 21,000 euros ($22,500) for the head of Wilders in an online video after the controversial lawmaker sought to organise a caricature competition depicting Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). The competition was later cancelled.
“It was not a stretch to think that somebody around the world would have taken heed of the call to kill Mr Wilders,” presiding judge G Verbeek told the court, reported AFP.
“The accused knew this and his call fuelled the fire to have Wilders killed.”
Wilders, 59, is one of Europe’s most prominent far-right leaders and has been a key figure in shaping the immigration debate in the Netherlands over the past decade, although he has never been in government.
His Freedom Party (PVV) is the third-largest in Dutch parliament and is the main opposition party. Wilders has lived under constant police protection since 2004.
It is extremely unlikely that Latif, who was convicted in absentia, will serve his sentence. Dutch authorities have sought in vain to question Latif over the case and requested legal assistance from Pakistan, also to no avail.
In the Netherlands, the plan to stage the contest was criticised widely with politicians, local media and ordinary citizens slamming the idea as needlessly antagonising Muslims.
Judge Verbeek said Latif´s video was not just an attack on Wilders personally, but also on the concept of free speech in the Netherlands.
Latif played five one-day internationals and 13 T20 internationals for Pakistan but was banned from cricket for five years in 2017 for spot-fixing in a Pakistan Super League match in Dubai.
His last Pakistan appearance was against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi in September 2016.