Irving faces 20 years' jail in Austria for 'Holocaust denial'

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The Independent Online

The British historian David Irving has been charged by prosecutors in Austria of denying the existence of the Holocaust, an offence that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail.

Mr Irving, 67, is accused of making two speeches in Vienna in 1989, in which he said there was no conclusive evidence that the Nazis used gas chambers to murder millions of Jews.

He was remanded in custody until Friday when a bail application will be considered. A senior prosecutor said that if he was found guilty a realistic sentence might be 10 years.

Mr Irving's website claimed last week that he had been detained while on his way to address a group of "courageous students" on the subject of a deal reached between the Gestapo chief Adolf Eichmann and Hungarian Jewish leaders during the Second World War, under which lorries were apparently bartered for Jews. The website claimed that "Austrian political police" tracked him down by tapping his phone and intercepting his e-mails.

Mr Irving established himself as a leading revisionist of the role of the Nazis with the publication in 1977 ofHitler's War, which looked at the conduct of the war from the perspective of the Führer.

In 2000 he brought a libel case against Deborah Lipstadt, an American academic who described him as a Holocaust denier. The case, heard at the High Court in London, backfired when the judge ruled against him, branding him "an anti-Semitic racist who associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism".

Mr Irving argued during his trial that he had never claimed that the Holocaust did not occur. He maintained that he had simply questioned the number of Jews killed under Hitler's regime and denied that they were systematically exterminated. The judgment left him bankrupt, facing a £2m bill for legal costs.