Toben jailed in landmark Shoah case

By Dan Goldberg, May 27, 2009

A revisionist historian living in Australia has been sentenced to three months in prison for refusing to remove Holocaust denial material and other antisemitic vitriol from his website.

Fredrick Toben, the director of the notorious Adelaide Institute, was sentenced in the Federal Court of South Australia for breaching a 2002 court order to remove offensive material that denied the Holocaust, doubted the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz and vilified Jews.

By finding Toben, 65, guilty on 24 of 28 counts of contempt, Justice Bruce Lander’s ruling brought to an end a bitter legal battle that began in 1996 when Jeremy Jones, a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, claimed that Toben’s race-hate material breached the Racial Discrimination Act.

The 2002 Federal Court order upheld that view. But Toben refused to comply and in 2006 Mr Jones returned to the courts. He said it was the first time that a Holocaust denier had been jailed in Australia for breaching the Racial Discrimination Act.

Mr Jones said: “The importance of this is that it lets people know we are serious; that this is not a game or some sort of intellectual exercise.”

In his landmark ruling, Mr Justice Lander said: “I do not accept that he is contrite for what he has done. He always knew that his conduct would undermine the authority of the court and his conduct was calculated to achieve that effect.”

But he agreed to stay the imprisonment for 14 days while an appeal was lodged. It is due to be heard on Wednesday. If, as expected, the appeal is rejected, Toben is likely to spend his first night in jail this week.

The German-born retired teacher spent almost two months in Wandsworth Prison late last year while German prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to extradite him on a European Union warrant.

And in 1999, he spent seven months in prison in Germany, where Holocaust denial is a criminal offence.

Last updated: 2:19pm, May 27 2009