Germany’s top Jewish leader has criticized a court in the central German city of Naumburg for letting a far-right politician off easy after his conviction for Holocaust denial.
The state Supreme Court decision to acquit extreme right-wing politician Hans Püschel by annulling the fine levied by a lower court is viewed by some as an unprecedented challenge to German law, which requires punishment for trivialization of the Holocaust and glorification of Nazi crimes. The decision was announced locally in October 2015, but became public on Wednesday after inquiries by the German daily newspaper Die Welt.
Historians have expressed astonishment at the ruling, and observers expect courts to run into trouble when trying to prosecute future cases.
Püschel, who was forced to step down in 2013 as mayor of the German village of Krauschwitz over his Holocaust trivialization statements, had appealed a fine of about 3,000 euros levied by a lower court.
Now the Naumburg court, the highest in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, has nullified that penalty, saying that Püschel’s statements, while illegal, did not amount to broad trivialization of the Holocaust.
Court spokesperson Henning Haberland told JTA that it was a complete acquittal, and that there are no charges remaining. He added that it was unlikely that the case would set a precedent for other Holocaust denial cases since the verdict was specific to the particular case.
Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany,…