German Appeals Court Upholds Conviction for Holocaust Denial

Deutsche Welle reports that the appeals court upheld the conviction, though lowered the fine (to $9,230) based on the defendant’s income:

Williamson had been convicted for inciting hatred, an offense which, under German law, incorporates any claim that the Holocaust did not happen. Williamson was in Germany when he told an interviewer for a Swedish television channel that, although Jews were killed during the Holocaust, the accepted figure of between five and six million was inaccurate, and the Nazis did not use gas chambers. He was convicted in absentia, with a lawyer present on his behalf.

Williamson’s lawyer argues that his client’s comments did not breach German law because they were never intended for broadcast in Germany. However, they sprawled globally over Internet video portals and were subsequently picked up by German national media. Judge Birgit Eisvogel ruled that Williamson should have been aware that any such television comments would inevitably find their way around the world, and thus to Germany, also noting Williamson’s own familiarity with the nature of the Internet: “We know that the accused is himself a blogger.”

The bishop was at the time an excommunicated Catholic, from “the semi-independent hard-line Society of Saint Pius X,” though the excommunication was lifted in 2009. “Vatican officials say the Pope was unaware of Williamson’s comments when he made the decision.”

As readers of the blog may know, I think that having an orthodox view of history, enforced through legal punishment, is very dangerous to a democracy; I think Holocaust denials laws are therefore a very bad idea. For more on the subject, see this post and this one. Thanks to Kent Scheidegger (Crime and Consequences) for the pointer.

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