Friday, June 10, 2011

Barcelona neo-Nazi's go free

In a disturbing decision this week, Spain’s high court has overturned the conviction of four men involved in circulating Nazi propaganda from a Barcelona bookshop.

(Pedro Varela, the owner of the now-closed bookshop is already well-known for being the first person to be jailed for similar crimes in Spain following the reform of the Penal Code in 1996. On that occasion, he received a five-year sentence, reduced to six months on appeal to the Supreme Court.)

Along with the three others, including a publisher from Molins de Rei, Varela was acquitted on Monday of fostering xenophobia and anti-Semitism through the selling of literature.

In 2009, the four men were each sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail after being found guilty of selling publications that justified the Holocaust and praised the Nazi regime.

In the Supreme Court's ruling, Justice Miguel Colmenero wrote that the selling of Nazi propaganda that promotes genocide is only a crime when there exists a danger that it could create a climate of hostility that would incite violence.

"Jews in Spain view with extreme concern the fact that the Spanish judiciary, so sensitive in certain situations, does not consider as criminal conduct the sale of books denying the Holocaust and promoting racism, in spite of standing criminal legislation to the contrary," the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain said in a statement.

Before the court's decision this week a prominent Israeli Rabbi had praised Spain's progress with Jewish relations while touring the city as the first Jewish religious leader to visit Granada since Jews were expelled from Spain over five centuries ago.

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