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article imageTop Dutch court upholds acquittal for 'Mein Kampf' seller

By AFP     Feb 14, 2017 in World

The highest court in The Netherlands on Tuesday upheld the acquittal of an antique dealer prosecuted for selling old copies of Hitler's "Mein Kampf", which is banned in the country.

Prosecutors in 2014 charged Amsterdam gallery owner Michiel van Eyck with inciting racial hatred and discrimination following a complaint from a Jewish group.

"The Supreme Court dismisses an appeal" by public prosecutors against Van Eyck's acquittal after previous similar decisions by lower Dutch courts, it said in a statement.

"The European Convention on Human Rights says freedom of expression can only be restricted if there is a pressing social need for it," the court said.

"In this case, there is none," added the tribunal in The Hague, saying Adolf Hitler's book, first published in 1925, "plays an important role in the social debate about anti-Semitic ideas."

"The court believes that the defendant wanted to sell a few historical copies because of their historical significance and not because of the anti-Semitic passages in the book."

"Neither has it been shown that the defendant supports or propagates Nazi ideology," the court said.

Van Eyck told AFP his Amsterdam-based Totalitarian Art Gallery specialised in selling objects from oppressive regimes in history and also included artefacts from the eras of Russia's Stalin and China's Mao Zedong, as well as writings by Jewish Dutch teen Anne Frank who died in a Nazi concentration camp after hiding in Amsterdam.

"I sell artefacts that form an important part of history and 'Mein Kampf' is part of that," Van Eyck said.

"I'm not surprised by the court's decision but I'm relieved that the whole issue is now behind me," he added.

Under Dutch law, the sale of "Mein Kampf" was banned in 1974 because Hitler's blueprint for the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust promoted hatred and discrimination.

Had he been convicted, Van Eyck could have faced up to six months in jail or a 7,600-euro ($8,000) fine.

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