Israeli lawyer files charges in Germany against Iranian leader

By Reuters


Shavat 24, 5766

An Israeli lawyer said on Wednesday that he has filed a criminal indictment with German federal prosecutors charging Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with the crime of Holocaust denial.

Ervin Eran Shahar filed the indictment on behalf of the Civil Coalition, a civil rights non-governmental organization active in Israel and elsewhere. He said the 56-page indictment was delivered to the German Federal Prosecutors Office in Karlsruhe, Germany, on Tuesday.

"I'm awaiting a response about whether they will file charges but I don't know how long it will take," Shahar told Reuters. "It doesn't take days but several months."

Ahmadinejad, previously the mayor of Tehran and a former member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and has repeatedly expressed doubt that six million Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War Two.

Denial of the Holocaust is a crime in Germany punishable with up to five years in prison.

"The Defendant should be investigated for inciting racial hatred, defiling the dead and denying the Holocaust. He should also be investigated according to international conventions and international law for violating the rights of Jews to security, to life and to freedom," the indictment says.

The prosecutors office in Karlsruhe was not immediately available for comment. Prosecutors will have to assess legal questions like jurisdiction, possible immunity from prosecution and whether Ahmadinejad could be tried in absentia.

Although Ahmadinejad has not publicly denied the Holocaust on German soil, Shahar argues in his indictment that there are firm legal grounds for bringing charges in Germany.

"In the case of the actual criminal indictment - the crime as described is directly linked to Germany, committed among others, against German nationals of Jewish descent -- so it is expected that the Federal Prosecutor will decide to prosecute."

German courts have previously tried persons for serious crimes committed abroad with no direct link to Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly condemned Ahmadinejad for his remarks.

British historian David Irving was sentenced to three years in prison on Monday by an Austrian court, which found him guilty of Holocaust denial. The trial of German Holocaust denier Ernst Zuendel, who was extradited to Germany from Canada, resumed earlier this month after it was suspended late last year.