German court jails Holocaust denier

Associated Press/August 7, 2007

A court in western Germany sentenced a member of a far-right party to four months in prison on Tuesday for denying the Holocaust.

Marcel Woell, the regional chairman of the National Democratic Party in Hesse state, was convicted of incitement for comments that he made in March during a meeting of a local assembly where he has a seat.

Another local politician filed a criminal complaint against Woell, 24, after he called for subsidies for school trips to sites of Nazi crimes such as the Auschwitz death camp to be scrapped.

He referred to "sites of the so-called National Socialist terror" and contended that the school trips served for "brainwashing" students.

Delivering the verdict at the administrative court in Friedberg, north of Frankfurt, judge Markus Bange said the comments were a "planned provocation."

Woell said he would appeal against the ruling.

The National Democratic Party, or NPD, is only a fringe force at national level, with no seats in the federal parliament. However, it has caused alarm by winning seats in the state legislatures of two eastern regions over the past three years.

That has prompted discussion of whether the government should launch a new drive to ban the party.

Officials are wary, however, after Germany's highest court in 2003 blocked a previous attempt to ban the NPD. It refused to hear the case because the government cited statements by party members who turned out to be paid informers for state authorities.

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