15 April 2010
Contrary to an earlier announcement, the bishop of the ultra-conservative Catholic Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), Richard Williamson, will not be present at his trial in Regensburg, Germany, on Friday. Williamson is charged with incitement to hatred for denying that Jews were murdered in gas chambers by the Nazis during World War II. His attorney Matthias Lossmann said: "He will not be there. I will explain to the trial why he is not coming."
Williamson, one of four bishops of the SSPX which broke away from the Catholic Church in 1988, said in a interview with Swedish television recorded in Germany in 2008 that "200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but none of them by gas chambers.” He added: “It was all lies, lies, lies," and "not one Jew" was killed in gas chambers. The interview caused a storm after it emerged that the Vatican had lifted the excommunication of the four SSPX bishops.
Williamson was fined € 12,000 (US$ 17,000) but a further trial was ordered after he refused to pay. Denying that the Holocaust took place, or questioning key elements of, is illegal in Germany.
Meanwhile, the German section of the SSPX distanced itself from Williamson’s statements on the Holocaust. The head of the SSPX internationally, Bernard Fellay, has reportedly banned Williamson from making public statements that do not exclusively deal with religious matters. The German newspaper ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’ quotes from a letter by Fellay to Williamson in which he writes that he should not attend the trial in Regensburg to allow his “lawyers to reconstruct the situation in your favor.”
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