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Holocaust denier fires lawyer who has neo-Nazi links, colleague says

By Richard Allen Greene and Diana Magnay, CNN
Bishop Richard Williamson arriving in London in 2009 -- he has fired a lawyer with neo-Nazi links.
Bishop Richard Williamson arriving in London in 2009 -- he has fired a lawyer with neo-Nazi links.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bishop Richard Williamson hires, then fires, a lawyer to fight his conviction for Holocaust denial
  • His superior warned him to dismiss the lawyer
  • Williamson does not believe there were gas chambers at Auschwitz
  • The lawyer led a far-right group until it was banned, the German government says
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(CNN) -- A Catholic bishop convicted of Holocaust denial in Germany has fired a lawyer with neo-Nazi links, the editor of the bishop's newsletter said.

Bishop Richard Williamson dismissed the lawyer, Wolfram Nahrath, on orders from his superior, Nicholas Wansbutter told CNN late Wednesday.

Nahrath told CNN earlier that he had been hired to help Williamson appeal his conviction, which stemmed from doubting Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's intention to murder Jews and denying the existence of gas chambers at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The appeal was originally scheduled to begin next week but was delayed indefinitely because of the change of lawyers, Nahrath said.

Nahrath would not say when he was hired and would not comment on his political affiliations. He did not say he had been fired and did not respond to CNN requests for comment about the matter Thursday.

The German Interior Ministry said Nahrath was the leader of the far-right Wiking Jugend until authorities banned the group in 1994.

Williamson was in Germany, where Holocaust denial is a crime, when he made the remarks in an interview with Swedish television.

The comments came shortly before Pope Benedict XVI lifted an excommunication on him and three other ultraconservative bishops. The Vatican said Benedict was not aware of Williamson's views on the Holocaust when the excommunication was lifted, and the pope ordered Williamson to recant. The excommunication was not related to his Holocaust denial.

Williamson was convicted of Holocaust denial in April. He did not appear in court to fight the charges.

Nahrath's father and grandfather led the Wiking Jugend before he did, according to the anti-extremist group Netz-gegen-Nazis. It said the Wiking Jugend was an imitation of the Hitler Youth, a group set up by Hitler to teach Nazi principles to children.

Williamson's order, the ultra-conservative Society of St. Pius X, distanced itself from his decision to hire Nahrath.

The order's superior general, Bishop Bernard Fellay, threatened to expel Williamson from the society if he stuck with his lawyer.