Canada native leader to get new hate trial - court

Mon Jan 14, 2008 12:46pm EST
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - A retired Canadian native leader who was convicted of hate crimes in 2005 should get a new trial, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled on Monday, upholding an earlier appeal court decision.

David Ahenakew blamed Jews for starting the Second World War in a December 2002 speech, and told a local newspaper reporter that Jews were a "disease" that Hitler was trying to "clean up" when he "fried six million of those guys."

But in June 2006, an appeals court judge set aside the conviction and ordered a new trial.

The provincial government appealed that ruling, but was unsuccessful.

"Mr. Ahenakew's comments, on any standard, were shocking, brutal and hurtful," the appeals court judges said in their written decision.

But they said the trial judge did not consider whether Ahenakew intended to promote hatred, which is necessary to be found guilty of hate crimes under Canada's Criminal Code.

Ahenakew, now 74, was fined C$1,000 ($980) after his conviction and stripped of the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honor.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; editing by Rob Wilson)