Ex-Pakistani Cricketer Who Posted Bounty For Dutch Far Right MP Geert Wilders's Murder, Sentenced

Khalid Latif had posted a bounty for the firebrand lawmaker online that led to at least one murder plot

Ex-Pakistani Cricketer Who Posted Bounty For Dutch Far Right MP Geert Wilders's Murder, Sentenced

Former Pakistan national cricket team player Khalid Latif was on Monday sentenced to a 12-year prison term for inciting violence against controversial Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders.

The focus, however, now turns to Pakistan and whether Islamabad will cooperate with Amsterdam and extradite Khalid to the European country to face prison.

Wilders, a firebrand MP who is seen by the Muslim world as an Islamophobic extremist for personally burning the Holy Quran on multiple occasions in public apart from incendiary speeches against Muslims, was targeted by Latif after organising an online competition for drawing sacrilegious cartoons.

The 37-year-old right-hand batsman posted a video online offering 21,000 euros ($22,500) to anyone who killed Wilders.

While pronouncing the judgement, Dutch Judge G. Verbeek noted that the bounty greatly increased the threat to Wilder's life. Moreover, he said that it was not just a personal attack on Wilders but an attack on the concept of free speech in the Netherlands.

The court noted that one reason Latif's bounty was so dangerous was because his fame as an international cricketer amplified it.

The court, however, had to settle for sentencing Latif in absentia, given that he is not in the Netherlands.

The Dutch authorities have complained that their efforts to trace and question Latif in the case have gone in vain. Official requests to Islamabad failed to yield any result either.

Wilders, meanwhile, deemed it "unacceptable" that Islamabad refuses to cooperate in the case. 

He said that he would raise the matter at the highest levels in the Netherlands to ensure that Latif is brought to the Netherlands to serve his sentence.

In response to Latif's bounty and a flood of threats, Wilders had called off the contest. He is now provided security by the Dutch government around the clock. 

Latif's sentence is not the first one in relation to Wilders. In 2019, a Pakistani man was sentenced to 10 years for plotting Wilders' assassination.

Verdict least of Latif's legal problems

This is not Latif's first tryst with the judicial system that has gone against him.

Latif was called up to the national cricket team in 2008 and played in five one-day internationals and 13 T20 internationals for Pakistan, was banned from the sport for five years in 2017 for spot-fixing in a Pakistan Super League match in Dubai.

His last appearance in national colours came in September 2016 against the West Indies.

With that ban set to expire, it remains to be seen whether this conviction will have any bearing on his sporting career.