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Germany confirms legal protest against Iran's leader

By Staff
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BERLIN, Feb 23 (Reuters) German federal prosecutors confirmed today that they have received a criminal complaint against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that charges him with the crime of Holocaust denial.

''The complaint was received here today,'' Frauke-Katrin Scheuten, spokeswoman for the Federal Prosecutors Office, said from Karlsruhe, Germany. She declined to comment further.

Israeli lawyer Ervin Eran Shahar filed the 56-page criminal indictment on behalf of the Civil Coalition, a civil rights non-governmental organisation active in Israel and elsewhere.

Shahar said he expected the prosecutors would take several months to make a decision on whether to formally press charges.

Ahmadinejad, previously the mayor of Tehran and a former member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, has called for Israel to be ''wiped off the map'' and has repeatedly expressed doubt that six million Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War Two.

Denial of the Holocaust is a crime in Germany punishable with up to five years in prison.

''The defendant should be investigated for inciting racial hatred, defiling the dead and denying the Holocaust. He should also be investigated according to international conventions and international law for violating the rights of Jews to security, to life and to freedom,'' the indictment says.

Prosecutors will have to assess legal questions like jurisdiction, possible immunity from prosecution and whether Ahmadinejad could be tried in absentia.

Although Ahmadinejad has not publicly denied the Holocaust on German soil, Shahar argues in his indictment that there are firm legal grounds for bringing charges in Germany.

REUTERS TM HS2207

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