Holocaust denier on trial in Germany

mannheim, germany (ap) | Ernst Zundel, a leading Holocaust denier who wrote “The Hitler We Loved and Why,” went on trial this week on charges including incitement, eight months after Canadian authorities deported him to Germany.

The 66-year-old native German faces further charges of libel and disparaging the dead before a court in southwestern Germany, which had sought him for years on an international arrest warrant.

The stocky man with steel-rimmed glasses sat between his attorneys as proceedings began, while dozens of sympathizers packed the viewing gallery.

A prominent white supremacist and Holocaust denier since the late 1970s, Zundel runs Samisdat Publishers, a leading distributor of Nazi and Nazi-era propaganda. He also provides content to the Zundelsite on the Web, which has followers around the world — hundreds of whom demonstrated against his arrest by German authorities in March.

Shortly after the trial opened, Judge Ulrich Meinerzhagen ordered defense attorney Horst Mahler dismissed on grounds he was barred from practicing earlier this year after he was convicted of incitement for distributing anti-Semitic propaganda.

Meinerzhagen further questioned whether the rest of Zundel’s defense team would be prepared to mount a “regular” case after one of them described Jews as an “enemy people’ in a motion.

Zundel, wearing jeans and a blazer, said little as he sat among his attorneys. If convicted, he could be jailed for up to five years. He insists he is a peaceful campaigner being denied the right to free speech.

Dozens of his supporters packed the courtroom, and Meinerzhagen threatened to clear them all out when many shouted “Shame!” as the defense complained it was being muzzled.

German authorities accuse Zundel of decades of anti-Semitic activities, including repeated denials of the Holocaust — a crime in Germany — in documents and on the Internet.

Born in Germany in 1939, Zundel emigrated to Canada in 1958 and lived in Toronto and Montreal until 2001. Canadian officials rejected his attempts to obtain citizenship in 1966 and 1994. He then moved to Sevier County, Tenn., where he married fellow right-wing extremist Ingrid Rimland, but was deported to Canada in 2003 for alleged immigration violations.

German authorities, who had already arrested Zundel during a visit to Germany in 1991 and fined him about $7,500 for agitation, obtained a new arrest warrant for him in 2003.

Because Zundel’s Holocaust-denying Web site was available in Germany, he is considered to have been spreading his message to Germans.

The court aims to reach a verdict by Nov. 24.