After a 10-year legal battle, Canadian authorities have extradited notorious Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel to Germany, where prosecutors have charged him with inciting racial hatred.
A Canadian judge agreed to Zundel’s extradition last week, and he arrived in Frankfurt, Germany on Tuesday. He was charged on Wednesday.
Zundel emigrated to Canada in 1958. In the 1970s, the Samizdat Publishing house — a major distributor of Nazi propaganda — published Zundel’s book entitled “The Hitler We Loved And Why”, along with shorter pieces, most notably “The Auschwitz Lie” and “Did Six Million Really Die?”
Inciting racial hatred and denying the Holocaust is a crime punishable in Germany by a maximum prison sentence of five years.
A Canadian judge had found Zundel guilty in 1988 of “knowingly publishing false news”, but the Canadian Supreme Court overturned that ruling in 1992, citing freedom of expression. But the pressure on Zundel was growing.
In 2000, Canada ruled that his works — particularly his website — were racist and violated the constitution. Zundel then fled to the US, but he was returned to Canada in 2003 because of an immigration violation.
German authorities have been trying to secure his extradition for a decade.
In 2003, Canadian authorities issued a warrant for his arrest based on the fact that his racist website could be accessed in Germany, paving the way for him to be tried at home.
The final hurdle was cleared last week when a Canadian court ruled that Zundel’s activities were a threat to the “international community of nations” and signed off on his extradition.
Zundel did not respond to the charges against him on Wednesday.
He can be held in pre-trial detention for up to six months while prosecutors prepare their case. Zundel’s extradition comes as Europe is developing a strategy for harmonizing anti-racism laws.
In late February, the EU dropped plans to ban Nazi insignia and other symbols that could incite hatred. Germany is the only country in Europe that has banned the use of Nazi insignia. France bans the sale of Nazi-related memorabilia.