Austrian right-wing activist Gottfried Kussel, widely considered the German- speaking world’s leading neo-Nazi, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a Vienna court for racist activities, the World Jewish Congress has reported.
Kussel, who has said the Nazi party should be re-established in Austria, was retried after his conviction last year was thrown out by the Austrian Supreme Court, which ruled that the judge who presided over the original trial improperly instructed the jury.
Kussel has remained in jail since that time.
Kussel, who has been arrested for his activities several times since 1984, founded an extreme rightist group, the Ethnically Loyal Extraparliamentary Opposition, in 1986.
His sentence has reportedly prompted his supporters to issue death threats against prominent international figures.
An Austrian publisher, Lojze Wieser, reportedly received a death threat this week that also named as targets President Clinton, Pope John Paul II and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
According to reports, the latter said that for each year that Kussel is in jail, “one prominent person will bite the dust.”
Austrian police call Kussel a violent hater of Jews who entertains his friends with songs about turning into soap.
In an interview in January 1992 with Ted Koppel on the ABC Television program “Nightline,” Kussel called Adolf Hitler “one of the greatest men in German history” and said “his ideology was very good.”
Kussel also denied the wholesale killing of Jews in the Holocaust, saying “there had never been an organized killing or organized gassing.”
During his interview, Kussel, interviewed in Austria, Kept saying “here in Germany” and told Koppel that “Vienna had been the capital of the German empire for 600 years,” and therefore “I know that I am here in Germany as well as I am here in Vienna.” Kussel is in fact forbidden from entering Germany.
Kussel was arrested following his interviews with both “Nightline” and ABC Television’s “Prime time Live” for his racist and anti-Semitic comments and his denial of the Holocaust. Austrian authorities apprehended him after receiving a strong letter of protest from Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti- Defamation League. Foxman included a videotape and transcript of the “Nightline” broadcast with his letter.
At his trial, prosecutors showed videotape of Kussel in a storm trooper-type uniform, telling supporters, “I am a Nazi, a racist, and proud of it.”
According to the WJC, the case marks the firs time in 40 years that Austria has imposed such a lengthy sentence for Nazi activity.