British bishop hires far-right lawyer in Germany: court

22nd November 2010, Comments 0 comments

A British bishop appealing his conviction in Germany for Holocaust denial will be represented by a lawyer with reported links to banned neo-Nazi groups, the court said on Monday.

Richard Williamson's appeal, scheduled to take place on November 29, will now not be heard until February or March as a result of the change, a spokesman for the court in Regensburg, southern Germany, told AFP.

Williamson has hired Wolfram Nahrath, one of the best-known lawyers on the far-right scene with close links to several groups banned by the government, according to media reports.

Williamson, 70, was found guilty of inciting racial hatred in April and fined 10,000 euros (13,600 dollars), reduced from an earlier fine of 12,000 euros he had refused to pay.

Williamson questioned key historical facts about the Holocaust -- a crime in Germany -- in an interview with Swedish television recorded in Regensburg and aired in January 2009.

"I believe that the historical evidence, the historical evidence, is hugely against six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler," Williamson said in the interview.

"I believe there were no gas chambers ... I think that 200,000-300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but none of them by a gas chamber."

Williamson is a member of the breakaway ultra-conservative Catholic fraternity the Saint Pius X Society. The fraternity has threatened Williamson with expulsion unless he fired Nahrath as his lawyer.

Pope Benedict XVI unleashed a deluge of criticism last year for reversing the excommunication of Williamson and three other Saint Pius X Society bishops in a bid to bridge the rift with the fraternity.

In a series of interviews published in a book this week, Benedict says that he would not have reversed Williamson's excommunication if he had known about his views on the Holocaust.

© 2010 AFP

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