UP 08/11 0722 Neo-Nazi’s suspended sentence criticized
BERLIN, Aug. 11 (UPI) — German politicians continued their
criticism Thursday of a decision by a Mannheim court to suspend the
one-year sentence of an ultra-rightist convicted of inciting racial
hatred against Jews.
The prime minister of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Erwin Teufel, said he was
“dismayed” and “outraged” by the decision, and said he hoped it would
be overturned by Germany’s highest court of appeal.
The court’s ruling caused shock waves by describing Guenter
Deckert, head of the extremist National Democratic Party, as a
“strong-willed, responsible personality with clear principles who
defends his political views with great dedication.”
The same court convicted Deckert in 1992 of inciting racial hatred
after he organized a rally at which he translated a speech by Fred
Leuchter Jr. of Malden, Mass., an execution technologist who authored
a book claiming the Nazis lacked the technology to gas millions of
Jews to death.
Earlier this year, Germany’s highest court ordered a retrial in
Deckert’s case, saying he could only be convicted for publicly
expressing views that were clearly his own. At the retrial in June,
the three-judge court ruled there was no doubt that Deckert, a
51-year-old former high school teacher, had broken German law by
claiming the Holocaust was a myth invented by the Jews.
But while rejecting Deckert’s appeal for acquittal, the judges
suspended his sentence, saying that he would probably not repeat his
Holocaust claims now that he knew they were a violation of German law.
The wording of the court’s decision caused widespread outrage in
Germany, especially its claim that Deckert was “not an anti-Semite in
terms of national-socialist racist ideology,” but “took great offense”
at the Jews’ “constant insistence on the Holocaust and the financial,
political and moral demands they still keep making of Germany almost
50 years after the end of war.”
Germany Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said
this week that the court’s leniency towards Deckert and the
understanding shown for anti-Semitism was “a slap in the face of all
victims of the Holocaust.”
Government spokesman Norber Schaefer said Chancellor Helmut Kohl
regretted the “bad signals” sent by the decision, and welcomed the
fact that the Mannheim public prosecutor had lodged an appeal.
Meanwhile, the manager of the opposition Social Democratic Party,
Guenter Verheugen, called the court’s ruling “the most unbelievable
judicial scandal of the last 10 years.”
The prosecutor in the Deckert trial, Hans-Heiko Klein, who had
demanded a two-year prison sentence for the right-winger, said the
Mannheim sentence “was too lenient by far.”