Court fines UK bishop for Holocaust denial

Court fines UK bishop for Holocaust denial

BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
Court fines UK bishop for Holocaust denial

A German court has fined British Bishop Williamson for denying facts about the Holocaust. EPA photo

A German court has fined a renegade British bishop 1,800 euros for denying key facts about the Holocaust.

The district court in the southern city of Regensburg convicted Jan. 16 Bishop Richard Williamson of incitement to hatred after he gave an interview to Swedish television disputing the existence of Nazi gas chambers to kill Jews. The 72-year-old also said in the 2008 interview that “200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps.” The prosecution had demanded a higher fine of 6,500 euros for Williamson, who was not present at the hearing, but the court lowered the amount, as it judged he had no income at present.

Williamson’s lawyer argued the conviction should be quashed as the bishop had expected the interview to be aired only in Sweden, where denying the Holocaust is not a crime.

But the actual interview took place in the German city of Regensburg, where it is illegal to deny the Nazis murdered six million Jews during World War II.

A previous fine of 6,500 euros handed down in July 2011 was quashed in February 2012 due to “irremediable procedural problems” in the case. Williamson was expected to appeal the verdict.

Expelled from fraternity

While still a member of the ultra-conservative Catholic fraternity, the Society of Saint Pius X Society, Richard Williamson also hit the headlines in 2009 when Pope Benedict XVI reversed his excommunication in a bid to bridge a rift with the organization. Benedict later said he would not have made such a move if he had known about Williamson’s views on the Holocaust.

Williamson was expelled from the fraternity of traditionalists last year after it said he had disobeyed and disrespected his superiors for several years.