Austrian court frees Holocaust denier Irving

Reuters/December 21, 2006

Vienna -- The British author David Irving was due to leave Austria yesterday after winning an appeal against a three-year prison sentence for denying the Holocaust, his lawyer Herbert Schaller, said.

Irving pleaded guilty in February to a criminal charge of denying that the Nazis sent millions of Jews to the gas chambers. He had appealed for a reduced sentence while the prosecutor had appealed for a longer one.

The Vienna court ruled his sentence should be changed from a jail term to probation and that Irving was free to leave Austria.

Irving had been in jail since his arrest in Austria in November 2005, when he arrived to give a lecture to students. He was detained on a warrant issued in 1989 under laws that make Holocaust denial a crime with a jail term of up to 10 years. The charges stemmed from speeches Irving delivered that year in Vienna and in the southern town of Leoben.

Irving has faced allegations of spreading anti-Semitic and racist ideas in the past. He has been quoted as saying there was not one shred of evidence that the Nazis carried out their Final Solution on such a scale.

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