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Native leader offers diabetes defense for hate crime

A Native leader who made anti-Semitic remarks plans to blame his outburst on diabetes and two glasses of wine, his lawyer said.

David Ahenakew, a former chief of the Assembly of First Nations and former head of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, is on trial for violating Canada's hate crimes law. In comments reported by the media, he blamed Jewish people for World War II and praised Hitler for the Holocaust.

Previously, Ahenakew apologized for his remarks but when he took the stand earlier this week, he said he stood by his beliefs. Two Native leaders who testified, however, said the comments were out of character.

Meanwhile, Ahenakew's lawyer says the person who should be charged with the hate crimes is the reporter who made public the remarks, which were made at a supposedly-private speech. But Ahenakew spoke to the reporter after the speech to confirm his remarks, and then told another news outlet that Jewish people control the media.

The speech was also recorded on videotape and Ahenakew's comments to the reporter were recorded on audiotape. The judge has allowed both tapes to be used as evidence.

The trial has been well attended by Native and Jewish people and has been reported to be somewhat rowdy.

Get the Story:
Charge reporter with hate crime: Ahenakew's lawyer (CBC 4/6)
It's the reporter's fault, Ahenakew's lawyer says (CBC 4/6)
Judge allows Ahenakew tapes as evidence (CBC 4/6)
Defence says diabetes, wine, medications led to Ahenakew's anti-Semitic remarks (CP 4/6)
Lawyer argues David Ahenakew was the victim (CTV 4/6)
Medicine, wine blamed for anti-Semitic tirade (The Globe and Mail 4/7)

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