Judge who denied gas chamber suffering is removed

TORONTO — A judicial panel has recommended that a Quebec judge who made controversial remarks in his courtroom about the Holocaust be removed from the bench.

But Judge Jean Bienvenue recently said that he would fight any attempt to discharge him.

During a December sentencing of a woman convicted of murder, Bienvenue said Jews who died in the gas chambers did not suffer.

At the time, Jewish groups in Montreal had called for the judge's resignation. Bienvenue later apologized to Jewish leaders.

Bienvenue also said during the sentencing that women were capable of behaving with more depravity than the vilest of men.

The judge's remarks were "humiliating" and "his prejudice seems firmly entrenched in his spirit," according to the majority opinion of the five-member panel.

"Judges can't be impervious or ignorant of what constitutes conduct beyond which they must not venture," the panel also said.

In a dissenting opinion, one panelist said Bienvenue's removal could compromise the independence of the judiciary.

The panel's recommendation now heads to the Canadian Judicial Council, which is expected to offer its opinion to the justice minister in the fall.