Holocaust denier gets three years
By VERONIKA OLEKSYN Associated Press Writer
Austria (AP) - Right-wing British historian David Irving pleaded guilty
Monday to denying the Holocaust and was sentenced to three years in
prison, even after conceding he wrongly said there were no Nazi gas
chambers at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
and wearing a navy blue suit, arrived in 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 before his
sentencing, at which he faced up to 10 years in prison.
He also expressed sorrow “for all the innocent people who died during the Second World War.”
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,” testified Irving, who has written nearly 30 books.
Irving's lawyer immediately announced he would appeal the sentence.
“I consider the verdict a little too stringent. I would say it's a bit of a message trial,” Elmar Kresbach said.
appeared shocked as the sentence was read. Moments later, an elderly
man who identified himself as a family friend called out, “Stay strong,
David! Stay strong!” before he was escorted from the courtroom.
67, has been in custody since his November arrest 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. He has contended
that most of those who died at concentration camps such as Auschwitz
succumbed to diseases such as typhus rather than execution.
court convicted Irving after his guilty plea under the 1992 law, which
applies to “whoever denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to
excuse the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist
crimes against humanity in a print publication, in broadcast or other
Austria was Hitler's birthplace and once was run by the Nazis.
trial came amid new - and fierce - debate over freedom of expression in
Europe, where the printing and reprinting of unflattering caricatures
of the Prophet Muhammad has triggered deadly protests worldwide.