Professor Robert Faurisson's "Sahar 1" appeal hearing in Paris on May 30, 2007

On May 30, 2007 Professor Robert Faurisson appeared before the 11th section of the Court of Appeal in Paris regarding his conviction of October 6, 2006 for comments made on the telephone and broadcast on Iran's "Sahar 1" satellite television channel. Professor Faurisson's alleged "offence" was to state in an interview, apparently given and transmitted on February 3, 2005, that during the Second World War there had never been any attempt on the part of the German State at a physical extermination of Europe's Jews.

Professor Faurisson told the court that he did not dispute the fact that in the period in question there had been suffering and persecution where the Jews were concerned: it was, for example, true that one fifth of the Jews living in France were deported. But he disputed the war propaganda-based account that has become entrenched in the historical record and according to which there existed a National Socialist project to exterminate the Jews. On the other hand, there had been an attempt to reach a "territorial final solution" of the Jewish question, but the word "territorial" was always left out by the propagandists, journalists and approved historians. The "extermination" argument, for its part, was supported by no evidence whatever, either material  or documentary: so he declared, having conducted, as he put it, a detective-style, rather than an academic, inquiry. 

Since 1990 the "Fabius-Gayssot Act" has prohibited the public expression of such views in France. Between 2000 and 2005 Professor Faurisson gave numerous interviews to journalists, amongst whom some Iranians, in which he believed he could speak freely: hence his great surprise in 2006 at being prosecuted for this one.

The European Court of Human Rights has already had occasion to uphold and voice its approval of the "Fabius-Gayssot Act", described by Professor Faurisson's barrister Eric Delcroix as an "assault" on the French people's rights, in legal terms, an illegitimate, wrongful official act and not a law, which the courts could, indeed must, refuse to apply.  

The core of the professor's defence was that he had expected his interview to be broadcast or published only in Iran — most likely in translation — a country with a quite different approach to the protection of "human rights", and which, unlike France, allows the free conduct of historical debate. 

No-one has yet answered Professor Faurisson's challenge, first issued 28 years ago, to produce evidence of an order to kill the European Jews, or evidence of any gas chamber used to such a purpose, or even an explanation as to how, technically and physically speaking, such a programme had been carried out. Instead of an answer, there stands the February 1979 case of the late Pierre Vidal-Naquet, to which the political and intellectual circles wholly subscribe, that no debate on the gas chambers' existence can be held, that such questions simply must not be put.  

The only alleged "gas chamber" ever subjected to official forensic examination — that of the Struthof-Natzweiler camp in Alsace — was conclusively proved by French authorities not to have been a "gas chamber". (The relevant report, signed in December 1945 by the dean of pharmacology in Paris, has ever since been suppressed, locked away in the military archives.) Yet the French courts take no account of such facts when hearing cases under the "Fabius-Gayssot Act".

Last October Professor Faurisson was given a three month suspended prison sentence for the telephone interview. At the appeal hearing this May 30, the professor and his barrister faced not only the public prosecutor and a panel of three judges, but also three hostile lawyers, representing three separate "anti-racist" organisations, each demanding financial compensation for the harm done to them by the professor's brief exposé, to a journalist in a distant land, of the results of his historical research.

The public prosecutor asked for the retired professor's suspended sentence to be at least doubled, from three months to six, while one of the three "anti-racist" lawyers made a request for damages in the same amount — €5,000 — as awarded in first instance to the others, rather than the mere symbolic damages won by his group.

The appeal court's judgment will be handed down on July 4th 2007.

 

 

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