Image: Bishop Richard Williamson
Str  /  Reuters file
An undated file picture of British Bishop Richard Williamson.
updated 4/16/2010 9:49:42 AM ET 2010-04-16T13:49:42

A German court has convicted ultraconservative British Bishop Richard Williamson of incitement for denying the Holocaust in a television interview.

A court in the Bavarian city of Regensburg on Friday found Williamson guilty of incitement for saying in an interview with Swedish television that he did not believe Jews were killed in gas chambers during World War II.

The court ordered Williamson to pay a fine of 10,000 euros ($13,544).

The Roman Catholic bishop was barred by his order from attending Friday's proceedings. The ultraconservative Society of St. Pius X also forbade him from making statements to the media.

The court had issued Williamson a fine of 12,000 euros (about $16,200) for incitement in connection with his statements last year, but the bishop refused to accept the punishment, forcing his case to be tried publicly.

Shown on Internet
Williamson's lawyer, Matthias Lossmann, told the German news agency DAPD his client had expressly requested that the interview, given to Swedish television in November 2008, not be shown in Germany. But it was broadcast over the Internet and cited in German media.

Denying the Holocaust is a criminal offense in Germany.

The interview was conducted near Regensburg and was granted shortly before Williamson's excommunication was lifted by Pope Benedict XVI, along with that of three other bishops from the anti-modernization movement of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

The lifting of Williamson's excommunication sparked outrage among Jewish groups and in Israel. The Vatican's handling of the affair prompted criticism from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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