Appeal of Holocaust-denying bishop rejected

European Court says Germany was within its rights to convict British bishop Richard Williamson of Holocaust denial.

Nissan Tzur,

(illustration)
(illustration)
iStock

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Thursday that Germany was within its rights to convict British bishop Richard Williamson of Holocaust denial, AFP reported.

Williamson, 78, sparked an outcry in 2009 by denying that the Nazis used gas chambers during the systematic murder of six million Jews during World War II, claiming that only "between 200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but not one of them by gassing in a gas chamber."

"The historical evidence is hugely against six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler," Williamson claimed in the interview. He also said that Germany has paid out billions of Deutschmarks and Euros because of “their guilt complex”.

His lawyers tried to argue he should not had been convicted because the comment was made during a television interview broadcast in Sweden, where Holocaust denial is not illegal.

The interview, however, was recorded in Germany, where it is a criminal offense to dispute the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis.

Williamson was convicted of incitement to hatred and ordered to pay a 12,000-euro fine, which was reduced to 1,800 euros ($2,100) in 2013 after a series of legal challenges.

In 2014, a German court in Nuremberg rejected Williamson’s appeal and the judges ordered him to pay the fine.

The European court said in Thursday’s ruling it found no reason to disagree with the German ruling that Williamson's "denial and downplaying of the genocide perpetrated against the Jews had disparaged the dignity of the Jewish victims".

It pointed out that Williamson knew his comments were illegal in Germany, and confirmed that since the interview was recorded there it was legal to prosecute the case in the country.

He did not seek to make special arrangements to ensure that the interview would not be available beyond Sweden, and would have been aware that it would have been accessible elsewhere via satellite TV and the internet, it agreed.

Williamson was formerly a member of the ultra-conservative Society of Saint Pius X but was kicked out of the group in 2012 for disobeying orders from his superiors.

He was excommunicated by the Vatican in 1988 after he was ordained by a fundamentalist archbishop against papal orders.

He was allowed back into the Church in 2009 as part of a move by then pope Benedict to heal a rift between the Vatican and fundamentalists.

That decision came days after the airing of Williamson's Holocaust-denying Swedish interview. An embarrassed Vatican said it had not been aware of the comments.

Williamson was excommunicated for a second time in 2015 after he consecrated a new bishop in Brazil despite not being authorized to do so.




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