Traditionalist Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson, who faces charges in a German court of inciting racial hatred over his public denial of the Holocaust, announced in a letter to supporters [on the Dinoscopus mailing list] that he would not try to defend the truth of his statements in court. Rather, his defense would be based on the argument that his remarks “were self-evidently in no way intended for a German audience, and thus the German law did not apply to [his] situation.” The German press agency DPA had recently quoted Bishop Williamson’s former lawyer as saying that the bishop intended to argue in German court that his statements were factually true (i.e. he would repeat in court his contention that the Holocaust never happened).
Bishop Williamson’s defense may well not hold up in court. There is precedent for German courts upholding their right to prosecute any case where Holocaust denial was made accessible to German citizens, even if the actual statements were made outside Germany and in a foreign language. We saw this in the case of Fredrick Toben in late 2000, and the principle was reaffirmed in 2007 with the conviction of Ernst Zundel in Germany, partially for web content that was posted outside the country. [Correction 07/12/2011: German news sources are reporting that Bishop Williamson’s interview with Swedish TV took place in Germany. That made his defense much weaker, I think. I’m not surprised the court upheld his conviction.]
If convicted, Bishop Williamson may be forced to pay a fine; I don’t think the prosecutors are asking for prison time.