A British bishop has been fined by a German court after a re-trial for denying the Holocaust, after he told a Swedish TV station based in Germany that "historical evidence is strongly against six million Jews having been deliberately gassed."
Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson, 72, was convicted of incitement after the interview he gave to Swedish programme Uppdrag Granskningtelevision in 2008. Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany, which is where the TV station is based.
Williamson was appealing an earlier conviction in 2010. AFP reported that prosecutors had asked for a fine of £5,400, but it was lowered to £1,500 after it was judged Bishop Williamson had no income.
He told the station: "I believe that the historical evidence, the historical evidence is strongly against, is, is, hugely against, six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.
"Germany has paid out billions and billions of Deutschmarks and now Euros because the Germans have a guilt complex about their having gassed six million Jews, but I don't think six million Jews were gassed."
Aware of the legal implications, Bishop Williamson later told the interviewer: "This is against the law in Germany. If there were a German here, someone who is of the German State, you could have me thrown into prison before I leave Germany. I hope this is not your intention."
The court found his comments on the Holocaust were "not spontaneous but were well-thought-out answers to the questions posed in front of the camera."
Lawyers for Bishop Williamson argued that Holocaust denial is not unlawful in the UK or in Sweden, and he should not have been held responsible if the broadcast was accessible from Germany.
A few months after the 2008 comments were made public, the Vatican made a controversial decision to reverse the excommunication of Bishop Williamson, who is a member of the sect of Society of St Pius X.
Bishop WIlliamson was expelled from that sect in October last year, after calling for the head of the sect to resign. In a statement the Society said he had been "refusing to show due respect and obedience to his lawful superiors, was declared excluded.
“This painful decision has become necessary by concern for the common good of the Society of Saint Pius X
Bishop WIlliamson did not attend this week's court proceedings.