BRUSSELS – Germany is considering issuing an arrest warrant on hate crime charges against a Holocaust-denying bishop, the country's justice minister said Friday.
It is a crime to deny the Holocaust in Germany and in several other EU countries.
German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries, speaking in the sidelines of EU justice ministers' talks in Brussels, said officials in her country were considering issuing an EU-wide warrant because the ultraconservative clergyman Richard Williamson denied the Holocaust during a Swedish television interview that was recorded in Germany. He lives in Britain.
A German investigation into Williamson's remarks was already under way, Zypries said.
"Germany could issue a European arrest warrant," she said.
A new set of EU guidelines to toughen up national anti-racism and hate crime laws was passed in 2007.
Those new guidelines will commit all 27 EU countries to impose criminal sanctions against people or groups that publicly incite violence or hatred against other groups or persons based on race, color, religion, descent or ethnic origin.
The guidelines also recommend EU nations impose prison sentences of up to three years for those convicted of denying genocide, such as the mass killing of Jews during World War II and the 1990s massacre in Rwanda. That rule would apply only to genocides that have officially been recognized under statutes of the International Criminal Court.
Not all EU countries have implemented the new guidelines yet, EU officials said.
During the interview broadcast last month, Williamson denied 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, saying 200,000 or 300,000 were murdered.
Williamson apologized for his remarks on Thursday. But the Vatican said Friday that he did not go far enough because he did not say his comments had been erroneous, nor that he no longer believed them.
The Vatican has demanded that Williamson "absolutely and unequivocally" distance himself from his remarks about the Holocaust.