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CRIME

Holocaust-denying bishop to drop lawyer with neo-Nazi ties

A British bishop appealing a German conviction for Holocaust denial has agreed to drop his lawyer with reported links to far-right groups, the breakaway Catholic fraternity he belongs to said Friday.

Holocaust-denying bishop to drop lawyer with neo-Nazi ties
Photo: DPA

“There was a discussion internally and he said that he would do so (drop the lawyer Wolfram Nahrath),” Saint Pius X Society spokesman Andreas Steiner said. “But as far as I know this has not happened yet.”

The ultra-conservative group had threatened to expel Richard Williamson unless he did so and stopped “letting himself become an instrument of political theories with absolutely nothing to do with his duties as a Catholic bishop.”

Nahrath has defended neo-Nazis charged with violent crimes and has had links with banned Hitler Youth-style groups including Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend, or “German youth true to the homeland,” according to anti-fascist campaigners.

Williamson was found guilty of inciting racial hatred in April and fined €10,000, reduced from an earlier fine of €12,000 he had refused to pay.

The 70-year-old had 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 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but none of them by a gas chamber.”

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 a 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.

According to news magazine Der Spiegel, the society has also asked Williamson to abandon his appeal, which is due to be heard in a court in Regensburg, southern Germany, in February or March, the court said this week.

AFP/ka

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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