Notorious Holocaust denier Ernst Zuendel dies in Germany

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Convicted Holocaust denier Ernst Zuendel, who served jail time for inciting racial hatred, has died in Germany at the age of 78, his family said Monday.

Zuendel, one of the leading figures in the denial movement, died on Saturday at his home in the southwestern spa town of Bad Wildbad, his sister was quoted by DPA news agency as saying.

His wife Ingrid confirmed his death in a statement to Canadian media and said he had apparently died of a heart attack.

Zuendel, who lived in Canada for decades before being extradited in 2005 over his anti-Semitic views, was sentenced to five years in prison by a German court in 2007 for repeatedly disputing the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis in World War II.

He was freed in 2010, with time spent behind bars before his trial counted as part of his sentence.

The court in the western city of Mannheim at the time counted 14 instances on Zuendel's website in which he denied the historical facts of the Holocaust and incited anti-Semitism.

His wife Ingrid, who lives in the United States, told Canada's CTV that she had spoken to Zuendel "just hours before he passed on and he was as optimistic and upbeat as ever".

A neo-Nazi "historian", Zuendel gained notoriety by writing a book titled "The Hitler We Loved and Why", describing the Nazi leader as a "man of peace" and helping to disseminate a range of anti-Semitic literature.

Zuendel's tumultuous trial even sent one of his own lawyers behind bars, after she called the Nazis' slaughter of European Jews "the biggest lie in world history" during the proceedings.

The lawyer, Sylvia Stolz, also signed a motion during the trial with "Heil Hitler". She was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and barred from practising law for five years.

It is a crime to deny the Holocaust in more than a dozen European countries, including Germany and Austria.

© 2017 AFP

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