Holocaust denier Irving to be released early
Wednesday December 20, 2006
right British author David Irving should serve the rest of his three-year jail
sentence for Holocaust denial on probation, an Austrian court ruled today.
Vienna's highest court granted Irving's appeal, which means he will be
released from prison before Christmas, the Austria Press Agency reported.
Irving was jailed in February after he admitted denying the Holocaust in two
speeches during a visit to Austria in 1989. The speeches included a call for an
end to the "gas chambers fairytale" and claims that Hitler had "helped" Europe's
Jews and that the Holocaust was a myth.
Holocaust denier to be released
An Austrian court has ruled that UK historian David Irving - jailed for denying the Holocaust - should be released on probation.
The court had heard calls for both a reduction and increase in the three-year sentence.
Irving was convicted in February in a case that sparked international debate about the limits of freedom of speech.
In 1989 he spoke in Austria denying the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz, though he later said he was "mistaken".
Irving on Wednesday welcomed his release and said he was "fit and well".
He said he would urge an academic boycott of historians from Germany and Austria until the nations stopped jailing historians.
"I was put in prison for three years for expressing an opinion 17 years ago," he said.
The BBC's Kerry Skyring in Vienna says the sentence has been converted to one year in jail and two years suspended.
The conditions of the probation are not yet known, including whether Irving will be able to leave Austria.
But his lawyer, Herbert Schaller, said: "He is free, and he can leave, and he will leave."
Both the prosecution and defence had challenged the length of the sentence. The crime carries a prison term of up to 10 years.
The 1992 law targets "whoever denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to excuse the National Socialist genocide".
Irving, 68, was arrested in November last year on a motorway in southern Austria. He was visiting to give a lecture to a far-right student fraternity.
The conviction had sparked intense debate with supporters saying it was fully justified but opponents arguing it undermined the right of freedom of speech.
At the initial trial, Irving had said it was "ridiculous" he was being tried for expressing an opinion and that he had changed his views on the Holocaust.
Story from BBC NEWS:
HC's oft-stated position: Irving should never have been sentenced to jail. A suspended sentence, which is effectively what he has now been given after 1 year in oruson, would have upheld the Austrian law and responded appropriately to Irving's attempt to stir up controversy by martyring himself. Because that's precisely what he was trying to do.