Spain's Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that Holocaust denial will not be punishable by imprisonment, saying it falls within freedom of speech.

Spanish law had mandated a sentence of up to two years in prison for Holocaust denial. But the court, which deliberated on the case following the trial of a neo-Nazi activist, ruled that such a punishment was unconstitutional.

It did, however, rule that imprisonment is a constitutional punishment for any individual convicted of justifying the Holocaust or any other genocide.

The court is expected to release the full ruling in the coming days.

Deliberations on the case began in 1996 with the trial of a Barcelona bookshop owner, Pedro Valera, who had been distributing neo-Nazi material. Valera was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison and a monetary fine, but the Barcelona high court suspended the sentence pending the Constitutional Court ruling.

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