Conviction of bishop for denying Holocaust upheld

AP News
Posted: Jul 11, 2011 11:30 AM
Conviction of bishop for denying Holocaust upheld

An appeals court on Monday upheld the conviction of a British bishop who denied the Holocaust in an interview with a Swedish TV station that was rebroadcast over the Internet in Germany.

The Regensburg court on Monday confirmed last year's incitement conviction of Bishop Richard Williamson, though it lowered his punishment to a fine of euro6,500 ($9,136) from the original euro10,000, according to DAPD news agency.

Judge Birgit Eisvogel said the fine was reduced to reflect Williamson's financial circumstances. The bishop did not attend Monday's ruling, and his defense team said it would file a new appeal.

Williamson's attorney had argued that the bishop was asked leading questions by Swedish station SVT and that he did not think the comments would be seen in Germany.

The 71-year-old said in the 2008 interview that he did not believe Jews were killed in gas chambers during World War II. Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany.

Williamson is a member of the ultraconservative Society of St. Pius X. He and others from the society were excommunicated in 1988 after they were consecrated without papal consent.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society of St. Pius X, has distanced his organization from Williamson since the interview aired on Jan. 21, 2009, and ordered him to keep quiet.

The same day the interview aired, Pope Benedict XVI lifted Williamson's excommunication, unleashing a torrent of criticism and threatening the Vatican's relations with Jews.

Benedict has since said that had he known of Williamson's views, he wouldn't have rehabilitated him at the time.