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Germany court convicts UK bishop for Holocaust denial

[JURIST] The Regensburg District Court in southern Germany convicted British Bishop Richard Williamson of incitement on Friday for denying the Holocaust [JURIST news archive] and ordered him to pay a 10,000 euro fine. The case 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. Last year, 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 [AP report]. When Williamson gave the interview to the Swedish TV channel he asked the crew not to broadcast the interview in Germany, because denial of the Holocaust is a criminal offense there. The lifting of Williamson's excommunication [NYT report] last year by Pope Benedict XVI [Vatican profile] caused international outrage.

In February, the Hungarian Parliament [official website, in Hungarian] passed a bill [JURIST report] that prohibits denials of the Holocaust. In November, the German Federal Constitutional Court [official website, in German] upheld [JURIST report] legislation prohibiting public support and justification of the Nazi regime. In 2007, the European Union approved [JURIST report] a framework aimed at criminalizing denial of the Holocaust and other genocides after six years of contentious debate. 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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