Radical bishop fined in Germany for Holocaust denial

BERLIN (JTA) — A radical Catholic bishop was fined in Germany on charges of Holocaust denial.

The $2,400 fine levied against Richard Williamson, 72, on Jan. 17 in Regensburg District Court stems from an interview he gave in 2008 to the Swedish SVT broadcaster in which he called the murder of Jews in gas chambers during the Holocaust "lies, lies, lies."

Williamson, who reportedly lives in London, is protesting the sentence, according to German news reports.

In 2010, he was found guilty in the Regensburg court of incitement to hate and fined about $14,000, but the verdict was set aside. An appeals court ruled that the district court had failed to say when and how the offending remarks were broadcast.

This time the court in explaining its decision noted that Williams’ statements "were not spontaneous," but rather were "well-thought-out answers to the questions posed in front of the camera," and that he clearly knew they would be broadcast, according to German media reports.

In the interview, conducted in Regensburg, Germany, broadcast on Swedish TV and also seen on the Internet, Williamson allegedly denied that any Jews were murdered in gas chambers during the Holocaust and insisted that not more than 300,000 European Jews were killed in total.

His attorneys reportedly told the court that Williamson’s statements were not punishable in Sweden or in England, and he should not be held responsible if they were accessible in Germany, where Holocaust denial is illegal.

The case was especially controversial because the Catholic Church at approximately the time of the broadcast had reversed the excommunication of Williams and other bishops from the the Catholic breakaway sect Society of St. Pius X.

Williamson is no longer a member of the St. Pius sect; he was expelled in 2012 for "refusing to show due respect and obedience to his lawful superiors," according to the sect’s website.

 

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