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EUROPE > Romanian MP punished after Holocaust comment

BUCHAREST - Agence France-Presse

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Romanian rabbi stands next to wreaths of flowers near the monument bearing the 768 names of Jews murdered in 1942, when the Struma was torpedoed by a Soviet submarine in the Black Sea, during a ceremony at a Jewish cemetery in Bucharest February 24, 2012. AFP photo

Romanian rabbi stands next to wreaths of flowers near the monument bearing the 768 names of Jews murdered in 1942, when the Struma was torpedoed by a Soviet submarine in the Black Sea, during a ceremony at a Jewish cemetery in Bucharest February 24, 2012. AFP photo

A Romanian lawmaker who stirred an outcry by denying late pro-Nazi dictator Ion Antonescu's responsibility in the Holocaust was punished Wednesday by his Social Democrat Party (PSD).

Opposition senator Dan Sova had said that "historical data show that a total of 24 Jews were killed during the Iasi pogrom by the German army." He also claimed on a television programme that "no Jew suffered on Romanian territory, thanks to marshal Antonescu".

"Mr Sova made a tremendous blunder. From now on he is no longer the PSD spokesman," the Social Democrats' leader Victor Ponta told a press conference.

Sova will also be sent to Washington to visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

"I think that all those who have a wrong perception of history should see for themselves the reality, the evidence, the photos," Ponta said.

"There are historical events that we must all know and acknowledge." Historians say 13,000-15,000 Jews from Iasi, northeast Romania, were murdered in the streets or asphyxiated in "death trains" in June and July 1941 in one of the worst single Holocaust massacres.

Between 280,000 and 380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews died in Romania and the territories under its control, according to an international historians' commission headed by Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel.

The Elie Wiesel Institute for the study of the Holocaust in Romania on Tuesday voiced "disagreement and outrage over the Holocaust denial statements" made by Sova.

"Opinions such as those voiced by senator Sova offend the memory of Romanian Holocaust victims and breech the law on Holocaust denial," it said.

Sova later said he had not intended to "deny the suffering of the Jewish people or the responsibility of the Romanian authorities of the time".

March/07/2012

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