Holocaust-denying bishop faces fine | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 27.10.2009
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Holocaust-denying bishop faces fine

A German court has imposed a fine on an ultra-conservative British bishop for denying that Jews died in Nazi gas chambers. If Richard Williamson challenges the order, he could face a trial in Germany.

Bishop Richard Williamson

Williamson has come under fire for his comments about the Holocaust

A court in the Bavarian city of Regensburg imposed the 12,000-euro ($17,00) fine, Williamson's lawyer Matthias Lossmann said on Tuesday. The bishop has until November 9 to react to the court order.

Williamson told Swedish television in an interview late last year that he believed no more than 300,000 Jews were killed in the Holocaust and that none died in gas chambers. The Nazis killed six million Jews in the Holocaust.

In Germany, a court order is the equivalent to a conviction if accepted by the defendant. If the defendant objects, the matter goes to trial.

"If he decides not to accept it, there will be a hearing," the court spokesman in Regensburg told Reuters, adding that the court has not received Williamson's intentions.

Lossmann would not say how his client planned to handle the matter.

Vatican in talks with splinter group

The court decision coincides with the start of talks between the Vatican and Society of Saint Pius X. Williamson is a member of this traditionalist Catholic splinter group, which broke away over liberal reforms made in the 1960s.

Pope Benedict XVI started a process to reconcile with the group earlier this year, with his decision to lift bans on four members of the Society of Saint Pius X, including Williamson.

The Vatican said the talks were "cordial, respectful and constructive" and covered "several important issues" regarding their interpretation of Catholic doctrine.

Editor: Chuck Penfold

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