Trial could turn Zundel into neo-Nazi martyr: observer

Germany's plan to try Ernst Zundel on charges of denying the Holocaust, inciting hatred raises fears that it could turn him into martyr.

Germany's plan to try Ernst Zundel on charges of denying the Holocaust and inciting racial hatred is raising fears that it could revive his status among neo-Nazis and turn him into a martyr.

A German judge ordered Zundel held in jail after arraigning him on the charges Wednesday, a day after he was deported from Canada.

Clemens Hoeges, a senior editor with the German newspaper Der Spiegel, told CBC News that the trial could thrust Zundel and his Holocaust denials back into the spotlight.

Hoeges said Zundel was very famous in the fascist movement a decade ago. However, he faded from view as neo-Nazis turned their attention from the Holocaust to focus on issues such as immigration and high unemployment rates.

"He will become a figure for them, a sort of martyr," Hoeges predicted in a telephone interview from Hamburg.

Hoeges said Zundel is likely to be convicted on the charges, both criminal offences in Germany.

If he's found guilty, Zundel could face up to three years in prison.

A German judge in the southwestern city of Mannheim ruled that Zundel should be incarcerated during preliminary proceedings because he might otherwise try to leave the country.

Officials were able to issue an arrest warrant for him in 2003 because Zundel operated an anti-Semitic website, which made his message available to Germans.

Zundel, who has written such works as The Hitler We Love and Why, was deported to Frankfurt from Toronto on Tuesday.

A Federal Court judge paved the way for the deportation last week when he found Zundel, 65, a threat to national security because of his connection with white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.

Zundel had been held in solitary confinement in a jail in Toronto for the past two years under a national security certificate.

He had been in Canada for four decades. He frequently appeared in various courts arguing for the freedom to express his anti-Semitic views.

Zundel once operated a website that espoused anti-Jewish sentiments and questioned whether six million Jews had died in the Holocaust.

He moved to the United States for a few years after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal of a federal decision to deny him Canadian citizenship.

The Americans handed him back to Canada when he violated the terms of his stay in the U.S. by missing a meeting with an immigration official.