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(photo credit: AP)
A court in the northern English city of Leeds sentenced two men to prison on Friday after they were convicted of multiple counts of possession, publication and distribution of racially incendiary materials.
Simon Sheppard, 52, was sentenced to four years and 10 months in prison, while Stephen Whittle, 42, was handed a term of two years and four months, in connection with what Judge Rodney Grant described as "unpleasant and very serious" charges.
The two had published articles and other material mocking the Holocaust and referring to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland as a "holiday camp" for Jews. They also disseminated racist leaflets against blacks and other minority groups, and published the material on Web sites run by Sheppard.
This is the first time that suspects in the United Kingdom have been convicted and sentenced to prison for inciting racial hatred on the Internet.
The investigation of Sheppard and White was launched back in 2004, after they reportedly dropped off a copy of a comic book called Tales of the Holohoax at a synagogue in the city of Blackpool.
Last July, the two skipped bail and went to the United States, where they attempted to seek asylum before being deported back to England in June.
Addressing the two men in court, Grant said, "Such offenses as these have, by their very nature, the potential to cause grave social harm, particularly in a society such as ours which has, for a number of years now, been multi-racial."
The judge added that "these are serious offenses."
"I can say without any hesitation that I have rarely seen, or had to read or consider, material which is so abusive and insulting... toward racial groups within our own society," he said.