Holocaust denier on trial in Vienna RNW International Justice
Posted by sarkout on May 31 2009 18:10:56

Holocaust denier on trial in Vienna RNW International Justice

An Austrian writer accused of denying the Holocaust and promoting Nazi ideology went on trial in Vienna on Monday.

Austrian prosecutors claim Gerd Honsik (68) used books and the Internet to promote and publicise Nazi ideology. They charge him with 28 counts of breaking laws prohibiting activities supporting the Nazi regime.

Honsik pleaded not guilty to the charges, saying he had no idea he was committing an offence when he disputed the existence of the Nazi gas chambers in his magazine, "Halt," in 1994.

Vienna-born Gerd Honsik had already been sentenced to 18 months in prison in 1992 for propagating Holocaust denial in his book "Freispruch für Hitler?" (Acquittal for Hitler?)

However, Hosnik fled to Spain during his appeal and spent 15 years there before being extradited to Austria in 2007.

The opening of his trial coincided with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's 120th birthday - a fact that was not lost on the prosecution.

"One hundred and twenty years after Hitler's birth, there are still people denying his atrocities," prosecutor Stefan Apostol said in his opening statement. "That's not just sad, it's dangerous."

Hosnik's lawyer, Herbert Schaller, also said that the existence of the gas chambers was "just the prevailing view" and called for relevant evidence to be presented.

Spain had twice rejected calls to extradite Honsik, saying Holocaust denial and neo-Nazi propaganda are not illegal in that country. He was finally extradited after two Europe-wide arrest warrants were issued at Austria's behest.

Hosnik could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.
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