Kosher meals the only treat for Irving at his new home

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The Independent Online

Life behind bars for Irving, 67, began in earnest yesterday after an Austrian judge sentenced him to a three-year term for Holocaust denial. The world according to the revisionist historian has now shrunk from a Mayfair flat to a cell with a concrete floor, where he will rise at 6am, eat his meals alone and work for a euro an hour.

Josefstadt, where the Nazis once beheaded resistance fighters, is Vienna's oldest jail. Built in 1839 and renovated in the 1980s, it is home to 1,200 prisoners, male and female. "We're a pretty liberal place," says Mr Huber, 53, who has worked there for 31 years. Irving, he says, will not have internet access but will be allowed to read English newspapers.

"Prisoners get one warm meal a day," says Mr Huber. Breakfast is delivered to the cells at 7am, a mid-morning snack at 10.45am, a cold lunch at 1.30pm and a hot dinner at 5pm. A kosher menu is available too, delivered from a Jewish old people's home in the city, should Irving feel inclined.

He will be allowed to shower twice a week - not alone, but with five other men. Cleaning his cell lavatory is on his list of duties and a hot bath is only sanctioned if the doctor orders it.

Irving is unlikely to be making friends with his neighbours. Along the long, pale-green corridors of Josefstadt C Block, screams and arguments are audible. On the cell doors hang cardboard signs marking out their occupants as "violent", "escape risk" and, more often than not, "hepatitis". A psychiatrist is on duty every day.

The cells - some single, some double, some housing up to six - are locked all day except for one hour, when inmates are allowed in the shady exercise yard or are permitted to play table tennis. Irving might be pleased to spend some time out of his cell working in the prison kitchen, bakery or library.

He is still classed as a remand prisoner, spared from wearing a uniform, and will not be required to work until his appeal has been heard in about three months. The chances are that he will be transferred to a prison outside Vienna. The state prosecutor has said he wants to increase the sentence.

Earning some cash in jail might be wise. When he returns to the outside world, Irving, a convicted criminal, will be unable to travel to America. That was his most lucrative market, where fans were only too happy to pay to hear his far-right views.

Mr Huber thinks Irving will be a useful inmate. "He's a writer isn't he? Well, we always need people to help write lists in here."