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November 27, 2000


Zuendel throws in towel at human-rights proceeding

by KIRK MAKIN,
Globe and Mail Update

As a human-rights proceeding against Holocaust denier Ernst Zuendel
approached its record-shattering fifth year yesterday, someone was notably
absent from the hearing room.

Mr. Zuendel (right) has thrown in the towel.

After devoting an estimated $140,000 to his defence as well as numerous
days spent strategizing and sitting in hearing rooms, the notorious
Holocaust revisionist said he is tired of being a patsy.

"I would rather save my money and appeal their grotesque ruling when it
comes out," he said in an interview.

"The reason I'm not there is my disdain for these people. It is perfectly
clear to me that the courts of Canada have simply decided that Ernst Zuende=
l
has got to go. They are going to nail me."

However, at the Canadian Human Rights Commission hearing where Mr. Zuendel
is charged with using the Internet to promote racial hatred, it was
business as usual.

A half-dozen lawyers for various Jewish groups and commission counsel did
battle yesterday with Paul Fromm, (below), a figure on the extreme right
who has intervened in the hearing in support of free speech.

Mr. Fromm contends that the media and human-rights bodies have historically
attached unfair labels to spokesmen on the far right, referring to them as
racists, bigots and Nazi sympathizers.

Mr. Fromm shares Mr. Zuendel's belief that the Internet should be a place
for lively debate of even the most sensitive historical issues. The ruling
in the Zuendel case will be the first on whether Internet service providers
and Web sites can be restrained by human-rights legislation.

Mr. Zuendel maintains in his defence that he has no control over the
California-based Web site, and that in any event, the commission is not
empowered to regulate the Internet.

Opposing him and his associates are a formidable array of legal talent
representing the commission, complainant Sabina Citron, B'nai Brith Canada,
the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The previous record for a Canadian Human Rights Commission complaint - five
hearing days - was surpassed long ago by the Zuendel proceedings. The Zuen=
del
hearing has now consumed 48 hearing days.

Signs of the passage of time are numerous. One of the three panel
commissioners resigned from the case a couple of years ago, citing the time
it was eating up. The original commission counsel, Ian Binnie, is now a
justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

There is also a village-like atmosphere in the hearing room, a development
that tends to characterize all legal proceedings which stretch on
interminably. "The case has been going on so long that we're punchy," John
Rosen, a lawyer for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, remarked in an interview.

The frequent delays in the case are largely the result of Mr. Zuendel's
applications for judicial reviews of rulings made by the commissioners.

By Mr. Zuendel's own count, 54 rulings have been made since the proceeding
began. He ended up on the losing side of 53 of them, he said, including a
recent attempt to have one of the remaining commissioners, Reva Devins,
removed because of potential bias.

"We have seen some of the most incredible, unusual rulings," Mr. Zuendel
said. "Truth is not relevant, and my intentions are not admissible, so this
is no longer a court. Ernst Zuendel has been so demonized that the courts n=
o
longer look at the facts."

Yesterday, Mr. Fromm put yet another familiar name from the far right,
publisher Ron Gostick, in the witness box. He introduced Mr. Gostick as a
man who "in some ways, is a victim of antihate legislation."

Mr. Gostick testified that numerous Crown authorities have failed to find
anything he has written that violated a law, yet he has been pursued by the
media and hounded out of meetings halls by angry Jewish groups.

"Are you pro-Nazi?" Mr. Fromm asked in one of the more bizarre exchanges of
the day.

"I'm just as anti-Nazi as I am anti-Communist," Mr. Gostick replied.

"Are you, or have you ever been, a member of the Ku Klux Klan?"

"No way," Mr. Gostick said.

The commission has set aside the next two weeks for evidence. Closing
arguments are expected to begin in early 2001, and the commission could
easily take one or two years to render its decision.

The worst penalty it can levy is to order Mr. Zuendel to stop operating the
Web site, if he really does.


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