A Belgian court ordered a Holocaust denier — and former politician — to visit five Nazi concentration camps and write about his experience as part of his sentence.
In 2005, Laurent Louis, a far-right politician, was convicted of Holocaust denial after he minimized the genocide of Jewish people during the Second World War on his blog. He was fined more than $20,000 and given a six-month suspended prison sentence.
Last week, an appeals court upheld his conviction but suspended the sentence for five years on condition he visits five Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz in Poland and Dachau in Germany, Agence France Press (AFP) reported.
After each visit, Louis has to write at least 50 lines of what he saw in the camps and the feelings he experienced to judicial authorities monitoring his sentence, the AFP reported. He is also required to post about it on his personal Facebook account, which has around 50,000 followers.
His lawyer, Sebastien Courtoy, told AFP that Louis was “sincerely sorry” for what he had done and that they had come up with the idea of the visits.
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The 37-year-old, who has now stepped down from politics, apologized on Facebook to “all those who might have been hurt by what I said.”
“It only remains for me to go and do these reports from the death camps. The court has probably recognized my talents as a writer,” he wrote.
A number of countries in Europe criminalize both the denial of the Holocaust and the promotion of Nazi ideology. The aim of these laws is to prevent the resurrection of Nazism in Europe by stamping it out at the earliest opportunity — whether through speech, symbols, or public association.
In Belgium, a law was passed in 1995 that bans Holocaust denial. The offence is punishable by imprisonment and fines.