Denier in jail after losing his appeal
Pia Akerman | August 14, 2009 The Australian
HOLOCAUST denier Fredrick Toben spent last night behind bars in Adelaide, after the Federal Court dismissed his appeal against 24 findings of criminal contempt.
The warrant for Toben's arrest was immediately activated by judge Jeffrey Spender, with Australian Federal Police officers waiting outside the court to take Toben into custody.
Toben, 65, had previously been sentenced to three months' imprisonment for disobeying court orders not to publish offensive material on his website, but was on bail pending the appeal against the finding and his punishment.
His lawyer David Perkins yesterday argued the sentence was too harsh, saying home detention was appropriate and that Toben's contribution to revisionist material available on the internet was "a drop in the bucket".
"The vice is small," Mr Perkins said, describing the offence as a "technical" contempt.
"A regime in which a person is prevented from saying what he or she thinks about matters of importance is a totalitarian regime.
"He is unable to express views which he, for better or worse, has about events which are of some importance.
"But Justice Spender said Toben had no civil right to breach the Racial Discrimination Act, and asked whether the court had the ability to actually increase the sentence in this situation.
He said the sentencing judge had treated Toben "mercifully" given his wilful and serial disobedience of previous court orders.
"This is not a case concerning opinions about or views concerning the Holocaust, or about gas chambers, or about Jews," Justice Spender said.
"In our opinion the sentence of three months cannot on any stretch of imagination be said to be excessive or unwarranted.
"Jeremy Jones, former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, brought the case against Toben on the grounds he had persistently breached the Racial Discrimination Act following a 2002 court decision against him.
Toben committed contempt of court on 24 occasions, wilfully disobeying court orders by keeping anti-Semitic material on his Adelaide Institute website.
He was held in Britain for nearly two months last year while German prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to extradite him on charges of publishing internet material "of an anti-Semitic and/or revisionist nature".
Toben also spent seven months in Mannheim prison in 1999 for inciting racism.
After Justice Spender read the court's decision, Toben stood and asked if he could say something, to which the judge said no.
Toben then loudly said "following blind orders", as the judges left the court.