Ernst Zundel sentenced to 5 years for Holocaust denial

Ernst Zundel was convicted Thursday of 14 counts of incitement of racial hatred for Holocaust denial and sentenced to the maximum five years in prison.

A German court on Thursday convicted Ernst Zundel of 14 counts of incitement of racial hatred and sentenced him to five years in prison, the maximum allowed under German law for denying the Holocaust.

Ernst Zundel, pictured in a German courtroom at the beginning of his trial in 2005, has received the maximum sentence for incitement of racial hatred. ((Michael Probst/Associated Press))

The Canadian Jewish Congress said it is satisfied with the sentence, with chief executive Bernie Farber saying it sends a strong message around the world.

The German-born Zundel lived in Canada for four decades, making frequent court appearances to argue for the freedom to express his anti-Semitic views in books and pamphlets, and on a website.

He was deported to Germany in 2005 after a Federal Court judge ruled he was a threat to national security.

He was immediately arrested upon arrival in his birth country and held without bail because German authorities considered him a flight risk.

In several European countries, including Germany, Austria, Belgium, Poland, Spain and France, Holocaust denial is a specific criminal offence. In Canada, Holocaust denial can be prosecuted as a hate crime.

In the closing statement at his trial, Zundel continued to deny the killing of six million Jews and said the German court should set up an international commission of experts to examine the Holocaust

A well-known Holocaust denier, Zundel operated a Nazi propaganda publishing house from Canada andwrote for a website that espoused anti-Jewish sentiments and questioned whether six million Jews had died in the Holocaust.

The author of such works as The Hitler We Love and Why, Zundel had been held in solitary confinement for two years in a Toronto jail under a national security certificate before being deported.

In 2005, a Federal Courtruling that Zundel was a threat to national security because of his connection with white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups paved the way to his extradition.