Germany denied help in bishop probe
Published: 9 Apr 09
In a criminal investigation against Catholic bishop Richard Williamson, who
denied that the Holocaust happened in an SVT interview broadcast in January,
German prosecutors want to question the Swedish journalist who interviewed
him. The Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern) has denied the request.
The conservative bishop provoked an international outcry during an interview
with Swedish Television when he claimed that only 300,000 Jews had been
killed in the Nazi concentration camps. The generally accepted estimate is
six million. He also claimed that none were killed in gas chambers.
The interview was conducted in Germany, where it is a criminal offense to
deny the Holocaust. German prosecutors have launched a preliminary
investigation into the incident.
The district attorney in Regensburg in southern Germany has asked the
Swedish Prosecution Authority for international legal assistance. The
request sought permission to interview the journalist as a witness in the
The Chancellor of Justice is a prosecutor dedicated solely to the area of
freedom of expression in Sweden. That's why the Prosecutor General passed
the German request onto Göran Lambertz, the Chancellor of Justice.
Lambertz has denied the request to require the journalist to testify. He
maintains that Williamson has not committed any criminal offense in Sweden.
Since he is not a suspect, the Swedish constitution also protects his
freedom of expression. Lambertz further points out that in Sweden "those who
are interviewed on television enjoy full freedom of expression, with very
few exceptions that are irrelevant in this case."
"For Swedish journalists, it is a foreign concept that interviewees could be
held responsible for what they say. It is also unimaginable that the
journalist himself would testify about what was said or done," said
The Chancellor also clarified that it would be in conflict with the Swedish
right to voluntary cooperation with legal authorities. However, he says that
there was nothing preventing Swedish police or prosecutors from asking the
journalist if he will voluntarily provide information to then be sent to