A man has denied committing a hate crime by filming a pet pug giving Nazi salutes and putting the footage on YouTube.
Mark Meechan, 30, recorded his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, responding to statements such as ‘gas the Jews’ and ‘Sieg Heil’ by raising its paw.
But after complaints about the content, police were called in and Meechan was arrested for allegedly committing a hate crime by uploading the footage on to the popular video sharing website in April last year.
The clip has now been viewed more than 3.1 million times on YouTube.
Meechan, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, is on trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court where he denies any wrong doing and insists he only did it to annoy his girlfriend of three years, Suzanne Kelly, 29.
In evidence, he told the court he only ever intended the video to be seen by a small group of friends on his YouTube account and insisted he still found the video funny.
He said: “I would categorise that video as comedy, a private joke.
“I didn’t intend for it to be found, just to be seen by Sue and my friends.
“I knew my friends would not be offended because they have the same sense of humour as me and they know a joke when they see one.
“I provide clear context as to the intention and purpose of the video at the start of it and my intention was to play a prank on my girlfriend.
“I’m not anti-Semitic and never have been and would consider anyone who is to be quite ignorant if they hold those views.
“The actual act of the Holocaust was extremely gruesome and absolutely terrible, and Jews suffered terribly at the hands of Hitler and that regime. I have always held that opinion.
“It was just for the purpose of comedy, she thinks her dog is the cutest thing in the world and I turned it into something horrible which is a Nazi, that was the juxtaposition of the whole video.”
He added: “I still regard the video as comedy and don’t believe it contains any threat of violence to anyone at all and it is not anti-Semitic or racist.
“There are a lot of popular comedians who have the same sense of humour as me including Mel Brooks, Jim Jefferies and Frankie Boyle but I was arrested over this video.”
An attempt by Meechan’s solicitor advocate Ross Brown to play clips of comedians Joan Rivers, John Cleese and Larry David, as well as Labour MP Harriet Harman making Holocaust jokes in court was refused and branded ‘irrelevant’ by the sheriff.
Suzanne Kelly had earlier told the trial her boyfriend had turned her ‘cute’ dog into a Nazi but insisted he did not mean any harm by it and that the dog was trained to respond to other words to get treats.
Prosecutors allege Meechan communicated material that would cause fear and alarm and stir up hatred on religious grounds by posting a clip which was ‘anti-semitic in nature’ to YouTube.
He also faces an alternative charge of posting a video on social media and YouTube which was grossly offensive because it was ‘anti-semitic and racist in nature’ and the prosecution claim it was aggravated by religious prejudice.
At the start of the clip he says: “My girlfriend is always ranting and raving about how cute and adorable her wee dog is so I thought I would turn him into the least cute thing I could think of which is a Nazi.”
In the video the dog is seen perking up when it hears the statements and appears to lift its paw to the ‘Sieg Heil’ command in the video and is also filmed watching a rally led by Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
The court has also seen a second video where Meechan apologised for any offence the clips caused.
The trial before Sheriff Derek O’Carroll continues.