Ernst Zündel was charged on 18 November 1983 under section 177 of the Criminal Code of Canada which provides:
Every one who wilfully publishes a statement, tale or news that he knows is false and that causes or is likely to cause injury or mischief to a public interest is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.
The charge was originally laid under a private complaint by Canadian Holocaust Remembrance Association founder Sabina Citron. The carriage of the charge was later assumed by the Crown, however, under an indictment dated 26 July 1984 which read as follows:
1. Ernst Zündel stands charged that he, during the year 1981, at the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto in the Judicial District of York, did publish a statement or tale that he knows is false, namely the article “The West, War, and Islam", and the said article is likely to cause mischief to the public interest in social and racial tolerance, contrary to the Criminal Code.
2. Ernst Zündel stands further charged that he, in or about the year 1981, at the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto in the Judicial District of York, did publish a statement or tale, namely “Did Six Million Really Die?” that he knows is false and that is likely to cause mischief to the public interest in social and racial tolerance, contrary to the Criminal Code.
On 28 February 1985, after a thirty-nine day trial, Zündel was acquitted on the charge concerning The West, War and Islam but convicted on the charge concerning Did Six Million Really Die?. The conviction was overturned on appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal on 23 January 1987 and a new trial was ordered.
The second trial of Zündel, which concerned only the booklet Did Six Million Really Die?, commenced on 18 January 1988. This book summarizes the evidence that was heard at the second trial over a period of three months. The last witness appeared on 26 April 1988.
The case was heard before District Court Judge Ron Thomas. Appearing for the Crown were attorneys John Pearson and Catherine White. Acting for the accused, Ernst Zündel, was defence attorney Douglas H. Christie.