Bonn to act on denial of Holocaust

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BONN - Following a court judgment this week, German laws may be tightened to make it easier to prosecute for the 'Auschwitz lie' - declaring that the Holocaust did not take place, writes Steve Crawshaw.

On purely legal grounds, the German court of appeal had rejected a lower court ruling against Gunter Deckert, leader of the extreme-right NPD party, who had been found guilty of incitement to disorder and racial discrimination, because of his publication of the Auschwitzluge.

The Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe found that the proclamation of the Auschwitzluge was not, in itself, a crime, though it also emphasised that the mass murder of Jews in gas chambers was 'self-evident' and did not require any additional proof. It did not definitively overturn the judgment against Mr Deckert, but referred the case back to a lower court for clarification of the basis for a possible judgment.

The Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper reported yesterday that new proposals for strengthening the legislation, by the Social Democrat Justice Minister of the state of Lower Saxony, were likely to be accepted by the federal authorities. One element of these proposals would be a semantic change, from 'offences against human dignity' to the more general 'offences against dignity'.

Meanwhile, however, the federal Justice Ministry in Bonn seems set to continue with its own plans for broadening the thrust of the legislation, making it easier to prosecute. Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, the minister, said this week, with reference to the proposed changed wording of the law, that she 'very much hoped' that it could be passed soon.