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Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2007, 10:11 GMT
French far-right leader to appeal
Bruno Gollnisch
Mr Gollnisch heads the European parliament's new far-right bloc
A French far-right leader has said he will appeal against his three-month suspended jail sentence and fine for questioning the Nazi Holocaust.

Bruno Gollnisch, who is number two in the French National Front, questioned the Nazis' use of gas chambers to murder Jews in World War II.

On Thursday a Lyon court convicted him of "disputing a crime against humanity" and fined him 5,000 euros (3,284).

He was also ordered to pay 55,000 euros in damages to various plaintiffs.

Mr Gollnisch heads a new far-right grouping in the European parliament.

He made his comments about the Holocaust at a news conference in October 2004.

He said historians should discuss the number of Jews killed by the Nazis as well as "the existence of the gas chambers".

His comments outraged Jewish and anti-racism groups, and he was suspended for five years from the Jean Moulin University in Lyon where he taught law and Japanese.

He condemned Thursday's verdict as "a defeat for freedom of expression" and said he was appealing against it, the French news agency AFP reported.

'Righteous' honoured

Separately, French President Jacques Chirac paid tribute to thousands of French people who saved Jews from the Nazis during the war.

Speaking at a special ceremony at the Pantheon in Paris, attended by some Jewish survivors and about 250 of their rescuers, Mr Chirac said their heroism meant that France could be proud of its history.

Thanks to the likes of hotel owners, bakers, teachers and priests, he said, three-quarters of the 300,000 Jews living in France had escaped deportation.

"There is the darkness. But there is also the light... Thanks to you... we can look France and our history straight in the eyes," he said.

He unveiled a plaque to honour the French "righteous" in the Pantheon's crypt. The converted church is a mausoleum for French national heroes.

More than 2,700 French people who saved the lives of Jews have officially been declared "righteous" by the Yad Vashem Memorial in Israel.

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