German court convicts prominent far-right politician of using Nazi slogan

14 May 2024, 18:44

Bjoern Hoecke at his trial at the regional court in Halle, Germany
Germany Far Right. Picture: PA

The verdict in Bjorn Hocke’s trial comes months before a regional election in the state of Thuringia in which he plans to run for the governor’s job.

A court has convicted one of the best-known figures in the far-right Alternative for Germany party of using a Nazi slogan in a speech and ordered him to pay a fine.

The verdict in Bjorn Hocke’s trial comes months before a regional election in the eastern state of Thuringia in which he plans to run for the governor’s job.

The state court in the eastern city of Halle convicted Hocke of using symbols of an unconstitutional organisation, German news agency dpa reported.

Bjorn Hocke arrives for a session of his trial in court in Halle, eastern Germany
Bjorn Hocke arrives for a session of his trial in court in Halle, eastern Germany (Jens Schlueter/Pool Photo via AP)

It imposed a fine totalling 13,000 euros (£11,175).

The charge can carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

Prosecutors had sought a six-month suspended sentence, while defence lawyers argued for acquittal.

The case centred on a speech in Merseburg in May 2021 in which Hocke used the phrase “Everything for Germany!”

Prosecutors contended he was aware of its origin as a slogan of the Nazis’ SA stormtroopers, but Hocke has argued that it is an “everyday saying”.

He said at the trial that he is “completely innocent”.

The former history teacher described himself as a “law-abiding citizen”.

The 52-year-old is an influential figure on the hard right of Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Bjorn Hocke
Bjorn Hocke is an influential figure on the hard right of Alternative for Germany (Jens Schlueter/Pool Photo via AP)

Hocke has led the AfD’s regional branch in Thuringia since 2013, the year the party was founded, and is due to lead its campaign in a state election set for September 1.

He once called the Holocaust memorial in Berlin a “monument of shame” and called for Germany to perform a “180-degree turn” in how it remembers its past.

A party tribunal in 2018 rejected a bid to have him expelled.

Prosecutor Benedikt Bernzen argued in Tuesday’s closing arguments that Hocke had used Nazi vocabulary “strategically and systematically” in the past.

Hocke accused prosecutors of not looking for exonerating circumstances and argued that freedom of opinion is limited in Germany.

By Press Association

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