Native leader wins new trial on hate crimes charges

David Ahenakew, a former chief of the Assembly of First Nations, was wrongly convicted of hate crimes and must receive a new trial, a judge ordered on Thursday.

Ahenakew acknowledged making derogatory remarks about Jewish people and the Holocaust. He told a tribal gathering and a newspaper reporter in a follow-up interview that Adolf Hitler was right when he "fried" the Jews.

After a highly charged trial that was attended by many Natives who believed the prosecution was a sham, Ahenakew was convicted of violating Saskatchewan's hate crimes law and was fined $5,000.

But Chief Justice Robert Laing of the Court of Queen's Bench said the lower court failed to take into account evidence that Ahenakew didn't mean to promote hatred. The 35-page decision also said the confrontational nature of the interview with the reporter must be considered.

Ahenakew is a former chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.

Get the Story:
Judge orders new trial for David Ahenakew (CBC 6/8)
Ex-Native leader will get new trial (CP 6/9)
Ahenakew hate crime conviction overturned (The Saskatoon StarPhoenix 6/9)

Queen's Bench Decision:
Ahenakew v. Queen (June 8, 2006)

Lower Court Decision:
The Queen v. Ahenakew (July 8, 2005)

Relevant Links:
Canadian Jewish Congress -

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