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Hate-crimes trial opens for aboriginal leader

TORONTO (JTA) — A second hate-crimes trial has begun in Canada for an aboriginal leader accused of willfully promoting hatred against Jews.

The case against David Ahenakew opened Monday in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

In 2002, Ahenakew, 75, told a reporter that Jews were a "disease" and Adolf Hitler was trying to "clean up the world" when he "fried" 6 million of the "guys" during World War II. Ahenakew was convicted of the rare crime of willfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group and fined $1,000. He apologized and was stripped of his Order of Canada.

The conviction was overturned on appeal — a ruling that was appealed by the prosecution.

Earlier this year, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, ruling that while Ahenakew’s remarks about Jews were "shocking, brutal and hurtful," they were not illegal.

The trial is expected to test the limits of what constitutes a private conversation.

Ahenakew’s lawyer, Doug Christie, has represented Holocaust deniers James Keegstra and Ernst Zundel.
 

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