Dieudonné sentenced on appeal in Switzerland for antisemitic and negationist remarks

The notorious French comedian Dieudonné has been sentenced on appeal in Geneva for antisemitic remarks made during shows in Switzerland in 2019.

Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, who has already been convicted in France on numerous occasions for racial insults or incitement to hatred, was convicted in July 2021 in the first instance in Geneva for “racial discrimination, defamation and insult”.

This was his first conviction in Switzerland.

The Geneva Criminal Appeal and Review Chamber confirmed this conviction, namely the payment of 180 days’ fine at 170 francs per day, i.e. 30,600 francs (28,200 euros).

At issue in this case are the negationist remarks about the gas chambers that Dieudonné made by one of his characters in his show between 4 and 6 January 2019, at the Théâtre de Marens in Nyon, and on 28 and 29 June 2019, at the Centre d’animation cinématographique CAC Voltaire in Geneva.

During his trial, Dieudonné claimed that it was not he who said the phrase during the show, but his “character”.

The argument was dismissed by the president of the Geneva police court, and the appeal court has just done the same.

According to this court, quoted by the Tribune de Genève, the artist showed “his contempt for the victims of the Shoah and his desire to create a controversy” and undermined “human dignity and public peace”.

“It cannot be held that he was parodying a Holocaust denier, in the manner of Charlie Chaplin parodying Hitler (…) in the absence of any verbal or clothing element that would suggest this,” wrote court judge Vincent Fournier.

The court of first instance had also found him guilty of “insult” towards the Swiss Intercommunity Coordination against Anti-Semitism and Defamation (Cicad), for remarks made about the non-profit association during the performance on 28 June 2019.

The polemicist had also been convicted of “defamation” for remarks made on 22 November 2019 about Cicad’s secretary general, Johanne Gurfinkiel, during an interview on a YouTube channel in Geneva.

According to the newspaper, he will also have to pay the costs of the appeal (2,195 francs).

But also the defence costs (2,638 francs) of Cicad and its secretary general.

The decision of the Criminal Appeal and Review Chamber against Dieudonné was made the 28 April of 2022.

“By this decision, the Court of Justice confirms the entirety of the first instance judgment and finds Dieudonné guilty of racial discrimination, defamation and insult,” he said. “This is a victory for Cicad”.

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