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Old 07-11-2005, 12:08 AM   #1
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Exclamation Ahenakew found guilty of promoting hatred;

Ahenakew found guilty of promoting hatred; fined $1,000
Last Updated Fri, 08 Jul 2005 22:20:38 EDT
CBC News
Former aboriginal leader David Ahenakew, who called Jews "a disease" and tried to justify the Holocaust, lashed out Friday and said he would appeal a court verdict that found him guilty of wilfully promoting hatred.


FROM JUNE 11, 2003: Ahenakew charged with spreading hate


David Ahenakew at provincial court in Saskatoon, Friday.
"I'm innocent of the charges brought against me and I will be appealing the court's decision," Ahenakew told reporters. "I have learned that native people will never get good, solid justice in this country."

Ahenakew also said he would fight a plan by Order of Canada officials to strip him of the honour he earned in 1978.

"I'm telling you I will not throw this back at them," he said.

A council that admits people into the Order of Canada said it has given Ahenakew until Saturday to turn in the award or defend why he shouldn't.

Two and a half years ago, Ahenakew told a reporter that the Holocaust was a good thing and praised Adolf Hitler for having "fried" six million Jews during the Second World War.

The 71-year-old later apologized, but was charged with inciting hatred.

Saskatchewan provincial court Judge Marty Irwin fined Ahenakew $1,000. The amount was appropriate to prevent him from becoming a "martyr" for racists and bigots, Irwin said.

While Ahenakew could have been given jail time, government prosecutors had only sought a $2,000 fine. He has a year to pay the fine.

In reading his verdict, Irwin said Ahenakew's comments "clearly dehumanize the Jewish people" and were exactly the kind of comments that laws against hate crimes were designed to address.

"To suggest that any human being or group of human beings is a disease is to invite extremists to take action against them," Irwin said.

Ahenakew lashes out at verdict

Ahenakew reacted angrily to the verdict, calling it a product of a judicial and larger political system that has been racist itself against First Nations peoples for the past 400 years and controlled by lobbyists an apparent barb at a campaign by Jewish organizations to strip him of membership in the Order of Canada.

"My case was as much about racism against First Nations as it was about alleged racism against Jewish people," said Ahenakew, wearing his controversial Order of Canada pin. He called the charges "ridiculous."


FROM JULY 7, 2005: Disgraced Ahenakew to lose Order of Canada honour

The judge also rejected Ahenakew's claim that the conversation with the reporter was private, saying the former aboriginal leader did not dispute the comments and knew that he was speaking with a reporter, who had a duty to report them.

Ahenakew shook his head a few times while Irwin read his verdict in a courtroom packed with members of Jewish organizations, First Nations and the media.

Ahenakew told the court that he was puzzled by the Canadian justice system for its "unfair" verdict of racism, a scourge he said he has spent his life fighting against and suffers from almost every day as an aboriginal.

"I am of course disappointed and at the same time very confused at what is justice and freedom in this country," he said.

Blamed Germans, diabetes for outburst

In December 2002, Ahenakew gave a speech to the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations in which he said Jews started the Second World War. He then spoke with a reporter with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

"The Jews damn near owned all of Germany prior to the war. That's how Hitler came in," Ahenakew said in the taped interview.

During his four-day trial in April, Ahenakew said his statements were based on what Germans had told him when he served overseas in the Canadian military. He also blamed his outburst that day on feeling ill from high blood sugar and drugs taken to treat his diabetes.
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