Passing sentence, the judge expressed agreement with the prosecutor’s contention that Begi was locked into a “closed antisemitic worldview.”
By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner
A court in Germany on Tuesday sentenced a notorious Holocaust denier to a fourteen month prison sentence with no possibility of parole.
51-year-old Reza Begi, who is of Iranian origin, has been on trial at the Berlin-Tiergarten district court since last August. According to the German news outlet Tagesspiegel, he faced 25 charges, including incitement and violence against law enforcement officials, over a period extending from May 2020 to Sept. 2021. Throughout the trial, he has continued with his agitational activities, joining neo-Nazis on a march through the city of Dresden as recently as last weekend.
At the start of his trial, the former taxi driver told the presiding judge “I am the Messiah” when asked to state his profession. Begi’s numerous violations of Germany’s legal prohibition against Holocaust denial included delivering an antisemitic speech at Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial and falsely claiming that the Holocaust was fabricated in a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in the German capital.
On another occasion in Dec. 2020, Begi loudly denied the Holocaust outside the same district court where his own trial was held while attending the separate trial of Ursula Haverbeck, a 94-year-old Nazi sympathizer who has been convicted of Holocaust denial on numerous occasions.
Begi has also incited violence. On a May 2020 demonstration outside the German parliament against the government’s public health measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Begi, wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh scarf, urged his fellow protestors to storm the building.
One witness who gave testimony on the penultimate day of the trial recounted that Begi had begun yelling antisemitic epithets on a crowded Berlin subway train after he realized the individual sitting alongside him was Jewish.
The witness said he intervened and called the police. “I see a lot on the subway, but that doesn’t work,” the witness said. “Antisemitism is not cool.”
Begi was not in court on Tuesday to hear the verdict. His lawyer, Wolfram Nahrath — a veteran of trials involving neo-Nazi and far right activists — had pleaded for acquittal or a token fine. Nahrath also urged the abolition of Section 130 of the German penal code, which criminalizes Holocaust denial, arguing that public order could not be disturbed simply by “discussing history.”
However, the judge demurred, describing Begi’s violent outburst on the Berlin subway as “symbolic” of the damage caused by his denial of the Holocaust.
Passing sentence, the judge expressed agreement with the prosecutor’s contention that Begi was locked into a “closed antisemitic worldview.” The denial of probation was justified on the grounds that Begi was a repeat offender with a criminal record, the judge said.