MALDEN, Mass. -- Angry groups of protesters tried to shout each other down Tuesday as an execution expert with controversial views on the Holocaust appeared in court for arguments over a charge he practiced engineering without a license.
'Never again, never again!' a group of about 75 Jewish protesters chanted. The group demonstrated outside Malden District Court while an attorney for Fred A. Leuchter Jr. asked that the charge be dismissed, but a judge issued no immediate ruling on the request.
Another dozen people demonstrated outside the courthouse to show support for Leuchter. One man set an Israeli flag on fire and ran down the street waving it wildly before he was arrested.
Leuchter, 47, of Malden, is the author of a paper that contends the Nazis could not have put thousands of Jews to death in gas chambers at the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Maidanek, and Birkenaw. 'The Leuchter Report: End of a Myth' was written for the 1988 trial of a Canadian publisher and Holocaust revisionist, at which Leuchter testified as a paid witness.
'I am not a Nazi, I am not a Sandinista nor an Iraqi terrorist. I am not a member of any group except the shrinking fraternity of free thinkers,' Leuchter said at a news conference at Malden's Government Center.
Leuchter said the protesters, who have dogged him for months, have ruined his business as an expert on execution equipment. His prominence in the field prompted ABC News to dub him 'Dr. Death.'
'Time and a new dawn of reason will vindicate 'The Leuchter Report.' Their desperate tactics have destroyed my character and turned my life upside down,' he said.
He said he would file suit against those who brought the charge against after his own case is concluded.
Famed Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld, who is credited with tracking down Klaus Barbie, the 'Butcher of Lyon,' and who has taken part in several protests against Leuchter, was among the 75 demonstrators outside the courthouse and at Leuchter's news conference. They sang 'We Shall Overcome' and shouted 'Leuchter's a liar!'
They were countered by a group of between a dozen and 20 people who shouted, 'Free speech, Free press, Free America!'
Jozef Mlot-Mroz, 70, of Salem, doused an Israeli flag with lighter fluid and torched it. Another man, Arthur Bernstein, 65, of Peabody, jumped from a line of protesters and lunged at Mlot-Mroz. Both men were arrested for disorderly conduct, police said.
Mlot-Mroz has been denounced by both Boston-area Jewish and Roman Catholic leaders for what they say is anti-Semitism.
Leuchter said he had not done anything to assemble the protest in his support.
Leuchter's court-appointed attorney, Anthony Santoro, told Judge James Killam the charge against his client should be dropped because the statute under which it was brought is too vague. But prosecutor Michael Friedland said that since Leuchter calls himself an engineer, he must abide by the statute.
Killam took the matter under advisement and scheduled a hearing for Feb. 19.