MADRID — Spanish police said on Thursday they arrested Austrian Holocaust denier Gerd Honsik, 15 years after he fled his homeland to evade a prison sentence.
An Austrian court sentenced Honsik in 1992 to 18 months in prison after he published a book called ‘Acquittal for Hitler’.
Honsik, 65, was convicted under an Austrian law banning people from re-engaging in activities in support of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party or its ideas, including publishing Nazi propaganda.
But Honsik fled to Spain during an appeal, the Austrian justice ministry said in a statement on Thursday. A spokeswoman for the Spanish national police said Honsik was arrested in the Malaga area, although declined to give further details.
Spain had already twice turned down an Austrian extradition request for Honsik. Spain’s high court said that Holocaust denial and neo-Nazi propaganda were not illegal in the country.
But after a European-wide arrest warrant was issued, Honsik could be extradited for racist and xenophobic behaviour, the Austrian ministry said.
Spain has 90 days from the point when the arrest warrant was issued to decide whether to extradite Honsik.
In December, Austria deported British historian David Irving, who was arrested in 2005 and sentenced to three years in prison for denying the Holocaust. But he was granted an appeal to serve the remainder of his sentence on probation.
Denying the Holocaust in Austria, which provided a significant number of top Nazi leaders including Hitler, is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Austria was part of Germany’s Third Reich from 1938 to 1945.