Is jailing him a denial of free speech or are his words incitement to hatred? I don't know what to think about this. The following is an article from the Herald Tribune.
An Austrian court has sentenced the British historian David Irving to three years in prison for denying the Holocaust while in Austria in 1989, dismissing his argument that he had changed his views.
Irving had pleaded guilty, hoping for a suspended sentence, but the Vienna criminal court concluded Monday that he was making a pretense of acknowledging Nazi Germany's genocide against Jews in order to escape a prison term.
"The court did not consider the defendant to have genuinely changed his mind," the presiding judge, Peter Liebetreu, told the court after announcing the sentence. "The regret he showed was considered to be mere lip service to the law."
Irving, 67, said he was shocked by the sentence, and he lodged an immediate appeal. His lawyer, Elmar Kresbach, said that if Irving lost the appeal, he was likely to serve a maximum of two years in prison because of his age and status as a first-time offender.
Irving was arrested on a visit to Austria last November, when he was detained based on a warrant related to lectures and a press interview he made in 1989. Denying the Nazi genocide is a crime in Austria punishable by as many as 10 years in prison.
"I'm not a Holocaust denier. Obviously, I've changed my views," Irving told reporters on his way into the court carrying a copy of "Hitler's War," which is among dozens of books on Nazi Germany and World War II that the self- taught historian has written.
Irving acknowledged denying in 1989 that Nazi Germany had killed millions of Jews, but he said he changed his mind in 1991 after coming across the personal files of Adolf Eichmann, the chief organizer of the Holocaust, during a speaking tour in Argentina.
He argued that the case against him was a denial of his right to free speech and that historians in Austria and Germany, which has similar laws against Holocaust denial, were being told by lawmakers how to write history.
Austria is trying to show it is tough on Holocaust denial because a significant number of Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler, came from Austria, and Jews and other critics have accused the country of glossing over its past for decades after the war.
Kresbach had asked the court for leniency because he said Irving had moderated his views and posed no threat to a stable Austrian democracy six decades after World War II.
The prosecution, meanwhile, said Irving had continued to attend meetings of "revisionist" historians, those dismissing the Holocaust, even after he said he had changed his views about it.
Mental health was never my strong point.