A FRENCH COURT has fined an MP €3,000 for saying that Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler “maybe did not kill enough” Roma.The appeals court in the Western town of Angers yesterday slapped the fine on Gilles Bourdouleix, who is also mayor of the nearby town of Cholet.The 54-year-old was involved in an altercation in July last year during a visit to a field in his commune that was occupied illegally by a Travellers’ community.Accused of racism and assailed by Hitler salutes, Bourdouleix mumbled to a journalist that “maybe Hitler didn’t kill enough of them”.A local French paper carried a report the next day with his comments and the resulting uproar forced him to resign from his party, the centrist UDI.In January, he was convicted for condoning a crime against humanity and fined €3,000 but the fine was suspended.But both the prosecution and Bourdouleix appealed, the latter saying he was innocent given the context in which he spoke.Justifying the appeal, Bourdouleix’s lawyer, Pierre Brossard, said:When you think of the Hitler salutes, the ‘Heil Hitlers’, the threats his wife received, the context is important.Even the prosecutor, Olivier Tcherkassof, acknowledged that the words were uttered in an unusually hostile context, although he denounced the “intolerable” sentiments expressed.But, in the ruling obtained by AFP, the court decided:“By publicly voicing — at a volume sufficiently loud to be recorded — his regret that the crime against humanity carried by the German authorities against travellers during the Second World War did not go far enough, the accused indeed condoned” the crime.‘Violent verbal outburst’Bourdouleix was not in court to hear the ruling but Brossard said his client would lodge a further appeal, saying it would be a “long legal process”.However, the anti-racism group SOS Racisme, said in a statement that Travellers were “among the most stigmatised and discriminated against groups in Europe.”Bourdouleix has a history of conflict with the Traveller community. In 2006, he launched a petition to 36,500 mayors in France, demanding that local authorities be given the power to order police to remove people occupying ground illegally.In November 2012, he threatened to resign after around 20 caravans appeared in a business park in his area, speaking of a “new invasion.” The travellers left the next day.In addition to his €3,000 fine, the MP was ordered to pay €600 euros for defaming the reporter who had published his comments in the paper, whom he called a “little shit.”Bourdouleix initially denied saying this and claimed that the recording — placed on line by the paper — had been “manipulated.”The Roma, a nomadic people whose ancestors left India centuries ago, have long suffered from discrimination and are frequently accused of carrying out petty crimes.They were killed in their hundreds of thousands by the Nazis during the Second World War, alongside Jews and homosexuals.- © AFP, 2014Opinion: Remembering a genocide the world is determined to ignore >
Plans to turn an old bar into a way to raise money for emergency housing in Unalaska are slowing down. That’s after the city discovered that the nonprofit Alexandria House had worked on the project all year without a building permit.Download AudioThe old Elbow Room has gotten a major makeover since Pastor John Honan started working on it earlier this year. He’s had volunteers install new floorboards, wall frames and windows, and there’s still more to do:“So I need my sliding glass door, I’ve got that ordered, that has to go in,” he says. “The siding has to be completed. The roof is mostly done.”The attached building at left was meant to be a bedroom for the upstairs apartment at the old Elbow Room — but city officials say that’s not what they agreed to. (Annie Ropeik/KUCB)When it’s all finished, he’ll rent it out as an apartment and commercial space. The revenue will help Alexandria House shelter sober, stranded people in hotels and spare rooms all over town.Unalaska’s planning board approved the project about a year ago. They gave Honan a conditional use permit, which he thought that was all he needed to start building.But he was supposed to apply for an actual building permit, too. City Engineer Robert Lund says it was part of the conditional use.“The point of that is to kind of get things to a point where the owner’s been formally notified and they can say, ‘Well no, I’m just doing siding or roofing, do I need a permit for that?’” he says. “But it gives us a chance to evaluate that.”But Lund doesn’t go out looking for projects that might not have the proper permits. The Elbow Room was on his radar, but he didn’t know until this summer that Honan had missed a step.“I got an email from someone that said, ‘I think they’re doing more than they said they were gonna do.’ Something along those lines,” he says. “So I call that a complaint.”He told Honan to stop work and apply for the building permit, which Honan did. But the plans he submitted weren’t what the city was expecting.The conditional use had limited the apartment to the second floor — a holdover from a previous owner that wasn’t revised. This year, though, Honan’s been building what he says is another bedroom in the back of the ground floor, beside the Arctic entry leading upstairs.He says he still sees the apartment as one single-family unit. But the city isn’t so sure — Lund says the plans don’t make it clear whether the downstairs chunk constitutes a separate dwelling.“If you were looking at that, and … the bottom floor is clearly an apartment, or really meant for living quarters — soup kitchen, that kind of thing,” he says, laughing, “then I don’t think that would kind of follow in the spirit of what the planning department thought they were giving a permit for.”Lund’s talking about what he calls the “controversial” aspect of this project. Five years ago, John Honan asked if he could build a homeless shelter in the Elbow Room. Neighbors — and the city — said no.This time, it’ll be up to whoever lives in the new apartment to decide whether to take in guests for Alexandria House. Barring a nuisance complaint, nothing in city code prohibits that.So neighbors are still concerned — and the city says Honan will have to go through another public permitting process if he wants to move ahead with the two-floor plan. Honan’s not sure it’s worth the risk.“If there was an article that came out that said Alexandria House is going for another conditional use….” He sighs. “I don’t know what would happen. I just — I’m thinking it could make more restrictions, maybe.”His other option is to scrap the downstairs bedroom, and get a building permit for the commercial space and apartment as originally planned. As of now, he hasn’t decided what to do — he’s busy buttoning up the Elbow Room for the winter. The city’s letting him do things like seal the roof and walls through the end of the year.“So the good news is I’ve got my hands full of work to do,” Honan says. Come January, though, that permission expires — and he’ll have to pick a plan in order to move forward.Click here to see Honan’s recent building permit application, the city’s stop-work order and the changes they’ve requested to the new plans.