Controversial native leader David Ahenakew dies
Canwest News Service
March 13, 2010 12:14 AM
SHELLBROOK, Sask. - Former Saskatchewan native leader David Ahenakew,
who fought a high-profile legal battle after he was accused of inciting
hatred against Jews, has died after a long battle with cancer, according
to media reports.
The 76-year-old reportedly died Friday night in hospital in Shellbrook,
about 140 kilometres north of Saskatoon.
On Wednesday, lawyer Doug Christie, who represented Ahenakew after he
was charged following a 2002 incident in which he praised Hitler and
blamed the Jews for the Second World War, said his client has been ill
for some time.
Ahenakew found out he had cancer shortly before his retrial on the
hatred charge began in November 2008 but kept it quiet, Christie said.
Christie said the cancer has progressed since the trial ended. "He's
been coping with a lot of problems with his health," he said.
A former chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations,
Ahenakew was convicted of inciting hatred in 2005, but the conviction
was overturned on appeal.
A second trial found Ahenakew not guilty.
The native leader's fall from grace started in December 2002, when he
told delegates to a health conference that when he was a young man
stationed in Germany, people told him Jews created the Second World War.
Later, he a reporter that Hitler "cleaned up a lot of things," and did
the right thing when "he fried six million of those guys."
The taped interview was broadcast across Canada and caused a massive
public outcry. Ahenakew made a tearful, televised apology and resigned
his seat on numerous boards and commissions, and as chair of the
Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations senate.
He was later stripped of the Order of Canada.
The judge in his retrial last year told Ahenakew his comments were
"revolting, disgusting and untrue," but said he did not have the intent
needed to be guilty of a charge of inciting hatred.
With files from Saskatoon StarPhoenix
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service