Germany appeals court upholds conviction of UK bishop for Holocaust denial

[JURIST] The Regensberg Court of Appeals in southern Germany on Monday upheld the conviction of British Bishop Richard Williamson for incitement for denying the Holocaust [JURIST news archive]. The court reduced his punishment [AP report], however, to a fine of 6,500 euro from the initial 10,000 euro fine as a result of Williamson's financial circumstances. The conviction [JURIST report] stemmed from an interview to Swedish TV channel SVT1, broadcast in January 2009, in which Williamson said he doubted [Die Zeit report, in German] that six million Jews were killed in gas chambers. The interview was rebroadcast over the Internet in Germany, where Holocaust denial is a crime. When Williamson gave the interview to the Swedish TV channel he asked the crew not to broadcast the interview in Germany. In 2009, the same court issued a 12,000 euro fine against Williamson in connection with this case, but Williamson contested the decision, forcing the public trial [DW report]. The lifting of Williamson's excommunication [NYT report] following the conviction by Pope Benedict XVI [Vatican profile] caused international outrage.

Several countries have passed similar laws that punish Holocaust denial. In February 2010, the Hungarian Parliament [official website, in Hungarian] passed a bill [JURIST report] that prohibits denials of the Holocaust. In November of the same year, the German Federal Constitutional Court [official website, in German] upheld [JURIST report] legislation prohibiting public support and justification of the Nazi regime. After six years of contentious debate, the European Union approved [JURIST report] a framework aimed at criminalizing denial of the Holocaust and other genocides in 2007. Also in 2007, a German court sentenced [JURIST report] anti-Semitic writer Ernst Zundel [ADL profile; JURIST news archive] to five years in prison after finding him guilty on 14 counts of incitement, libel and disparaging the dead.

 

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