December 21, 2006
Austria Frees Holocaust Denier From Jail
By MARK LANDLER
FRANKFURT, Dec. 20 —
The decision drew pointed criticism, with some Austrian commentators noting that the court’s presiding judge, Ernest Maurer, was widely known to have close ties to the Freedom Party, a far-right organization with a history of appealing to anti-foreign and anti-Jewish sentiment.
Mr. Irving’s books were on conspicuous display last week at a conference of Holocaust deniers in Tehran organized by the Iranian government. Among the speakers was Robert Faurisson, a French academic and outspoken Holocaust denier, who prodded Mr. Irving during the 1980s to be more open about his doubts about the mass killing of Jews.
In Austria, though, some people argued that however noxious Mr. Irving’s views, he should be allowed to express them. Others said the law was necessary because, as Hans Rauscher, a columnist at the Vienna paper Der Standard, put it, “Denial of the Holocaust is not an opinion, it is a political act which tries to bring Nazi thought into the mainstream.”
Mr. Rauscher .... was troubled by the involvement of Judge Maurer, a conservative jurist who Mr. Rauscher said “is known for very lenient opinions toward right-wing extremism.”
In several cases Mr. Maurer ruled in favor of Jörg Haider, the founder of the Freedom Party, after he sued journalists and academics who accused him of trying to rationalize Nazism.
In 2000 Mr. Maurer was the choice of the Freedom Party to serve on a board that oversees the Austrian public broadcasting network, ORF. He is not a member of the party, and he has always said in the Austrian press that he decides cases based on the legal facts.
Even some of Mr. Irving’s fiercest foes opposed the decision to jail him. Deborah Lipstadt, a historian at Emory University in Atlanta who won a libel suit that Mr. Irving filed against her in 1998, said in an interview, “I don’t believe that history should be adjudicated in a courtroom.”
Professor Lipstadt said Mr. Irving’s imprisonment risked turning him into a martyr. “He’s got the best of both worlds,” she said. “He’s now a martyr to free speech, and he’s free to talk about it.”
Thursday, December 21, 2006
New York Times on Irving release
From the New York Times: