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Prosecutors pursue charges against Holocaust denying Catholic bishop

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Prosecutors pursue charges against Holocaust denying Catholic bishop
Photo: DPA
16:55 CEST+02:00
Prosecutors in the Bavarian city of Regensburg have submitted a request to press charges against the controversial Catholic bishop Richard Williamson for inciting hatred by denying the Holocaust.

A judge will now decide if expedited legal proceedings against the member of the ultraconservative Society of St. Pius X go forward. The process can only be used when there is no hearing required and the defendant does not face time in jail.

“It's heading in the direction of a fine,” said Johann Plöd, the president of the Regensburg district court.

One year ago, Williamson unleashed a storm of outrage by claiming the Nazis didn't murder Jews in gas chambers and that only 200,000 to 300,000 Jewish people had been killed in concentration camps. Because he made his comments to Swedish television while at a Pius brotherhood seminary in Zaitzkofen, Bavaria, the bishop can face criminal charges in Germany.

Prosecutors started their investigation into the incident January, however, it has been hampered by the refusal of Swedish officials to compel the TV journalist to testify as a witness.

The controversy surrounding Williamson engulfed the entire Catholic Church at the beginning of the year after Pope Benedict XVI lifted his excommunication along with that of three other bishops from the Society of St. Pius X. The conservative religious sect rejects the Vatican's teaching on religious freedom and pluralism, including the idea that Jews are the “older brothers” of Christians.

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