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Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 18:16 GMT
Yahoo boss cleared over Nazi sales
Graphic
The former head of internet giant Yahoo has been cleared of illegally selling Nazi memorabilia on the website.

American Timothy Koogle was accused in France of two offences over the sale of Nazi items on Yahoo's US internet auction site.

A previous court battle had already resulted in Yahoo being ordered to prevent French internet users from accessing its US auction site, so Nazi memorabilia could not be purchased online from France.

Yahoo later stopped selling the material.

'Glorifying'

The separate case against Mr Koogle was brought by the Association of Auschwitz Deportees, which was seeking to have him found personally liable.

He was accused of two offences - justifying a crime against humanity and "exhibiting a uniform, insignia or emblem of a person guilty of crimes against humanity".

The judges ruled that neither charge against Mr Koogle had been proved.

They said that justifying war crimes meant "glorifying, praising, or at least presenting the crimes in question favourably," which Yahoo had not done.

Long battle

Mr Koogle, who did not appear in the Paris court in person, had faced a theoretical maximum fine of 47,500 euros ($50,000) and five years' imprisonment.

However, prosecutor David Peyron had asked that Mr Koogle, head of Yahoo from 1995 to 2001, should receive no punishment even if convicted.

The battle over Yahoo's auction site began in France in 2000, when groups including France's Union of Jewish Students sued it.

They were angry that items including flags emblazoned with swastikas could be bought, despite a French law barring the display or sale of racist material.

See also:

03 Jan 01 | Science/Nature
03 Jan 01 | Americas
21 Nov 00 | Europe
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