Man cleared of causing suicide of prof who wrote of 'Jewish conspiracy'

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The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg Thursday acquitted an Austrian journalist of "causing the suicide" of a German professor who claimed that the Jews declared war on Germany in 1933. The ruling was handed down in a complicated case involving freedom of speech, libel and anti-Semitism.

The court found in favor of veteran journalist Karl Pfeifer, ruling that Austrian courts failed to protect Pfeifer's good name. The court ordered the Austrian government to pay Pfeifer 5,000 euros in damages and 10,000 euros in court costs.

The verdict states that the Austrian courts violated article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights - the right to a private life. The court was not convinced that the reasons put forward by the lower Austrian courts concerning freedom of expression outweighed the right of the applicant to have his reputation safeguarded.

In 1995, a German professor, Dr. Werner Pfeifenberger, published an article about the "Jewish conspiracy," beginning with the 1789 French Revolution. He claimed that the Jews declared war on Germany in 1933. Pfeifer, who edited the Austrian Jewish community newspaper, responded with an article in which he accused the German professor of underrating the crimes of the Nazi regime.

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