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AfD Politician Björn Höcke Fined Again for Using Nazi Slogan

by ballyhooglobal.com
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For the second time in seven weeks, a German court has convicted the prominent far-right leader Björn Höcke of using a banned Nazi slogan.

The conviction — at a time when the far right is on the ascent in Europe — is the latest in a series of legal setbacks for Mr. Höcke, the leader of the nationalist Alternative for Germany party in the eastern state of Thuringia.

After a three-day trial, Mr. Höcke was found on Monday to have willfully ignored the ban on using the banned Nazi slogan — “Everything for Germany” — and was fined 16,900 euros, about $18,100, after using the phrase late last year.

The decision came after Mr. Höcke was fined 13,000 euros in mid-May for using the slogan during a 2021 campaign speech.

The judge in the city of Halle found that Mr. Höcke had deliberately directed a crowd of supporters to complete the slogan, which was carved into the knives of the paramilitary wing of the Nazi party.

“When I see what is happening in Europe, it is still essential that we counter the danger of old Nazi-era symbols from becoming acceptable again,” Judge Jan Stengel said in delivering his verdict, according to local news reports. Still, the punishment fell short of the suspended prison sentence and a two-year ban on political posts that prosecutors had sought.

Specific phrases, greetings, uniforms, and symbols associated with the Nazis are banned in Germany.

While Mr. Höcke and his lawyers unconvincingly denied knowing of the phrase’s dark past during his first trial in Halle, his defense this time had argued that the phrase should not be banned. And despite a video presented as evidence of Mr. Höcke gesturing to the crowd to complete the phrase, his lawyers also argued that the crowd’s reaction was unexpected.

In his half-hour closing statement, Mr. Höcke, one of the most extreme voices in the far-right party, said the trial was politically motivated and designed to muzzle his political speech. He also called on his party to launch parliamentary investigations into the state justice system.

The AfD made solid gains during elections for the European Parliament, which have no direct consequences on federal or state governments in Germany but are seen as a barometer of the mood in the country. The far-right party won 15.9 percent of the vote across Germany. In the state of Thuringia, where Mr. Höcke leads the party, it garnered 30.7 percent — 7.5 more than its closest mainstream competitor, and the AfD is poised to make significant gains in state elections in September.

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