Holocaust denier faces jail in Germany

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German state prosecutors have charged one of the world's most notorious Holocaust deniers with inciting racial hatred, ending a 10-year battle by the country's legal authorities to bring him to justice.

German state prosecutors have charged one of the world's most notorious Holocaust deniers with inciting racial hatred, ending a 10-year battle by the country's legal authorities to bring him to justice.

Ernst Zundel, who once described Adolf Hitler as a "decent and peaceful man", was extradited from Canada and bundled on to a flight to Frankfurt on Tuesday after a decade on the run from the German authorities. Yesterday, state prosecutors in Mainz charged the 65-year-old German citizen with inciting racial hatred and denying the Holocaust, a crime in Germany punishable by a maximum five-year prison term.

Mr Zundel made no comment as the charges were read out in closed court. He will remain in custody until his trial this year, a court spokesman said. The white supremacist, a friend of the British historian and Holocaust denier David Irving who is banned from entering Germany, emigrated to Canada in 1958. In the 1970s, he set up Samisdat Publishing, one of the world's main distributors of Nazi propaganda.

In 1995, his firm developed a website dedicated to Holocaust denial. Mr Zundel's publications include a book entitled The Hitler We Loved And Why and countless leaflets and internet files with titles such as The Auschwitz Lie and Did Six Million Really Die?

When German authorities tried to extradite him, he claimed immunity because of his Canadian residency. Then in 2003, prosecutors obtained a warrant for his arrest after judges ruled that because his website could be read in Germany, he could be brought to trial there.

In Canada, his activities became the subject of a legal wrangle which ended only last week. In 1988, a Canadian judge convicted Mr Zundel of "knowingly publishing false news" but the supreme court overturned the ruling four years later, decreeing that it violated freedom of expression.

Canada declared in 2000 that Mr Zundel's overtly racist website was in breach of the country's constitution, so he fled to the United States. He was sent back to Canada in 2003 for being in breach of US immigration law. Last week a Canadian court ruled his activities a threat to the "international community of nations" and agreed to his extradition.

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