SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — In a landmark ruling, a Holocaust revisionist living in Australia was jailed for three months for failing to remove material from his Web site.
Fredrick Toben was sentenced Wednesday in Federal Court in Adelaide for defying a 2002 court ruling that had ordered him to remove Holocaust denial material from his Adelaide Institute Web site.
It is the first time that a Holocaust denier has been jailed in Australia for breaching the Racial Discrimination Act.
In his ruling, Justice Bruce Lander said Toben had “no respect for this court."
“I do not accept that he is contrite for what he has done,” Lander said. “He always knew that his conduct would undermine the authority of the court, and his conduct was calculated to achieve that effect.”
Lander dismissed pleas by Toben’s lawyer for leniency, but agreed to stay the imprisonment for 14 days while an appeal is lodged.
Toben, 65, was ordered not to leave the country during that time; he was scheduled to leave Thursday for a conference in Tehran, local media reported.
Toben was found guilty last month on 24 counts of contempt for continuing to publish material denying the Holocaust, doubting the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz and vilifying Jews.
The sentence brings to an end a bitter battle that began in 1996 when Jeremy Jones, a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, claimed that Toben’s race-hate material breached the Racial Discrimination Act. In 2002, the Federal Court upheld that view and ordered him to remove all the offensive material. But Toben refused, and in 2006 Jones returned to court.
Jones told JTA he would have been surprised if the punishment had been less than a jail sentence.
“The importance of this is that it lets people know we are serious, that this is not a game or some sort of intellectual exercise,” he said.
A German-born retired teacher, Toben was jailed in London for nearly two months late last year while German prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to extradite him on a European Union warrant. In 1999 he spent seven months in prison in Germany for inciting racism.