Photo: AFP
David Irving - going to prison
Photo: AFP
Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp
Photo: Reuters

Holocaust denier Irving going to jail

British historian David Irving sentenced to three years in prison in Austria for denying Holocaust; earlier, Irving pleaded guilty to the charges but insisted he now acknowledges killing of Jews

(VIDEO) Going to jail: Right-wing British historian David Irving was sentenced to three years in prison in Austria on Monday for denying the Holocaust, which is illegal in in the country.


Irving, who pleaded guilty and insisted during his one-day trial that he had a change of heart and now acknowledged the Nazis' World War II slaughter of 6 million Jews, faced up to 10 years behind bars for the offense.


Irving, attorney following sentencing (Footage: Reuters)


The attorney representing Irving announced his client will appeal the sentence.


"I consider the verdict a little too stringent. I would say it's a bit of a message trial," said the attorney, Elmar Kresbach.


Irving appeared shocked as the sentence was read out. Moments later, an elderly man who identified himself only as a family friend called out: "Stay strong, David - stay strong," before he was escorted from the courtroom.


Earlier, Irving pleaded guilty to criminal charges of denying the Holocaust and conceded he erred in contending there were no Nazi gas chambers at Auschwitz as his trial opened Monday in Vienna.


Irving, 67, told reporters he now acknowledges that the Nazis systematically slaughtered Jews during World War II.


"History is like a constantly changing tree," he said as an eight-member jury and a panel of three judges prepared to hear charges that could put him behind bars for up to 10 years.


Irving, handcuffed and wearing a navy blue suit, arrived at the court carrying a copy of one of his most controversial books -- "Hitler's War," which challenges the extent of the Holocaust.


"I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," Irving told the court, speaking in German. But he insisted he never wrote a book about the Holocaust, which he called "just a fragment of my area of interest."


"In no way did I deny the killings of millions of people by the Nazis," Irving testified. Earlier, he told journalists he considered it "ridiculous" that he was standing trial for remarks made 17 years ago.


He has been in custody since his arrest in November on charges stemming from two speeches he gave in Austria in 1989 in which he was accused of denying the Nazis' extermination of 6 million Jews.


An eight-member jury and a panel of three judges will hear the proceedings, which officials said could produce a verdict as early as Monday.


His trial opens amid fresh – and fierce – debate over freedom of expression in Europe, where the printing and reprinting of unflattering cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad has triggered violent protests worldwide.


Irving had tried to win his provisional release on Euro 20,000 (USD 24,000) bail, but a Vienna court refused, saying it considered him a flight risk.


His lawyer, Elmar Kresbach, said last month the controversial Third Reich historian was getting up to 300 pieces of fan mail a week from supporters around the world, and that while in detention he was writing his memoirs under the working title, "Irving's War."


Irving was arrested November 11 in the southern Austrian province of Styria on a warrant issued in 1989. He was charged under a federal law that makes it a crime to publicly diminish, deny or justify the Holocaust.


'Hitler knew little about Holocaust'


Within two weeks of his arrest, Irving asserted through his lawyer that he now acknowledges the existence of Nazi-era gas chambers.


In the past, however, he has claimed that Adolf Hitler knew little if anything about the Holocaust, and has been quoted as saying there was "not one shred of evidence" the Nazis carried out their "Final Solution" to exterminate the Jewish population on such a massive scale.


Vienna's national court, where the trial is being held, ordered the balcony gallery closed to prevent projectiles from being thrown down at the bench, the newspaper Die Presse reported Sunday.


It quoted officials as saying they were bracing for Irving's supporters to give him the Nazi salute or shout out pro-Hitler slogans during the trial, which will continue into Tuesday if a verdict is not forthcoming on Monday.


Irving is the author of nearly 30 books, including "Hitler's War," which challenges the extent of the Holocaust, and has contended most of those who died at concentration camps such as Auschwitz succumbed to diseases such as typhus rather than execution.


In 2000, Irving sued American Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt for libel in a British court, but lost. The presiding judge in that case, Charles Gray, wrote that Irving was "an active Holocaust denier ... anti-Semitic and racist."


Irving has had numerous run-ins with the law over the years.


In 1992, a judge in Germany fined him the equivalent of USD 6,000 for publicly insisting the Nazi gas chambers at Auschwitz were a hoax.


פרסום ראשון: 02.20.06, 10:29
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