Friday, April 16, 2010

Germany / Holocaust Denial / Catholic Church

German Court Fines British Bishop for Holocaust Denial
By James Meikle
The Guardian, April 16, 2010
"A British Roman Catholic bishop, who had been excommunicated and rehabilitated, was fined €10,000 (£8,765) by a German court yesterday for denying the Holocaust during a Swedish television interview. Richard Williamson was found guilty of incitement for saying he did not believe millions of Jews were killed during the Second World War and that 'only 200,000 to 300,000' had died in Nazi death camps. Court spokesman Bernhard Schneider said that Judge Karin Frahm said in her ruling that the bishop could not have expected that the clip would show up on YouTube and be seen directly in Germany. She had therefore reduced the fine. Williamson had been barred from attending the hearing, in the Bavarian city of Regensburg, or making media statements by the order of which he is a member, the ultra-conservative Society of St Pius X(SSPX). Denying the Holocaust is a hate crime in Germany but Williamson's lawyer, Matthias Lossmann, said he had explicitly told the Swedish crew conducting the interview not to broadcast it there. He had not yet decided whether to appeal the judgement. The journalists who conducted the interview also ignored a court order to attend the trial, Lossmann claimed, leaving the judge to rely on written statements as testimony.
'That does not do a case like this justice,' said Lossmann, who said Williamson was now living in Britain. The bishop's comments were made in 2008 but gained publicity in January last year, soon after Pope Benedict XVI repealed an order by his predecessor Pope John Paul II, which excommunicated the bishop for his right-wing views. The decision to welcome him back into the church caused an outcry from Jews, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and some in the Roman Catholic hierarchy. The Vatican, while condemning Williamson's remarks, said it was unaware of his views about the Holocaust when his excommunication was reversed. [...]"

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