British bishop convicted on Holocaust denial charge
Richard Williamson alleged in interview that the Nazi gas chambers never existed.
A German court convicted ultraconservative British Bishop Richard Williamson on Friday for denying the Holocaust in a television interview.
A court in the Bavarian city of Regensburg found Williamson guilty of incitement for saying in a 2008 interview with Swedish television that the Nazi gas chambers had never existed, and "only 200,000 to 300,000 Jews" had been killed by the Nazis.
The court ordered the 70-year-old Williamson to pay a fine of 10,000 euros ($13,544).
The Roman Catholic bishop was barred by his order from attending Friday's proceedings or making statements to the media.
His lawyer, Matthias Lossmann, told the Associated Press after the court ruling that Williamson has yet to decide if would appeal it.
Denying the Holocaust is a criminal offense in Germany.
The court last year ordered a fine of 12,000 euros for Williamson, without a trial. But the Bishop appealed that ruling, forcing his case to be tried publicly.
Lossmann said that Williamson had explicitly asked the Swedish television crew conducting the interview not to broadcast it in Germany.
In issuing her ruling, Judge Karin Frahm said the bishop could not have expected that the clip would show up on YouTube and be seen directly in Germany, which led her to reduce the fine, court spokesman Bernhard Schneider told the AP.
The journalists who conducted the interview also ignored a court order to attend the trial, Lossmann said, leaving the judge to rely on written statements as testimony.
That does not do a case like this justice, Lossmann said.
The interview was conducted near Regensburg and was granted shortly before Williamson's excommunication was lifted by Pope Benedict XVI, along with that of three other bishops from the anti-modernization movement of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
The lifting of Williamson's excommunication sparked outrage among Jewish groups and in Israel. The Vatican's handling of the affair prompted criticism from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The bishop had been forbidden by his order to attend the proceedings in Regensburg. The ultraconservative Society of St. Pius X has also forbidden him to make statements to the media.