Pegida movement founder convicted for inciting racial hatred

The founder of Germany's xenophobic and anti-Islamic Pegida movement was Tuesday convicted of inciting racial hatred and fined nearly 10,000 euros for branding refugees "cattle" and "scum" on social media.

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Pool/AFP / Jens Schlueter Lutz Bachmann (C), co-founder of Germany's xenophobic and anti-Islamic PEGIDA movement, stands between his lawyer Katja Reichel (L) and his wife Vicky Bachmann (R) on May 3, 2016 in Dresden, eastern Germany
Pool/AFP / Jens Schlueter Lutz Bachmann (C), co-founder of Germany's xenophobic and anti-Islamic PEGIDA movement, stands between his lawyer Katja Reichel (L) and his wife Vicky Bachmann (R) on May 3, 2016 in Dresden, eastern Germany

Lutz Bachmann, founder of the far-right “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident” movement, was ordered to pay 9,600 euros ($11,000) over the widely-shared Facebook posts.

Pool/AFP / Jens Schlueter  Lutz Bachmann (C), co-founder of Germany's xenophobic and anti-Islamic PEGIDA movement, stands between his lawyer Katja Reichel (L) and his wife Vicky Bachmann (R) on May 3, 2016 in Dresden, eastern Germany
Pool/AFP / Jens Schlueter
Lutz Bachmann (C), co-founder of Germany’s xenophobic and anti-Islamic PEGIDA movement, stands between his lawyer Katja Reichel (L) and his wife Vicky Bachmann (R) on May 3, 2016 in Dresden, eastern Germany

Judge Hans Hlavka told the court in the eastern city of Dresden it was “clear” that Bachmann was responsible for the comments on the social network and that his insults could not be considered as free speech.

The defence said it will appeal the decision while prosecutors who had demanded a seven-month jail sentence said they may do the same.

The Pegida movement bitterly opposes Chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal migration policy that brought more than one million asylum seekers to Germany last year.

Bachmann, 43, who called the court case a “political show trial”, made a defiant appearance when the trial started a week earlier, wearing a pair of glasses that mimicked the black bars printed over people’s eyes in censored photos.

His defence lawyer Katja Reichel insisted Bachmann had not written the offending words, and that his Facebook account may have been “hacked”.

However, the court also watched video footage of a Pegida rally in January 2015 where Bachmann appeared to be defending the Facebook comments, saying he had merely “used words that everyone has used at least once”.

Pegida rallies at that time peaked at around 25,000 people, but interest then began to wane following wide coverage of Bachmann’s overtly-racist comments and the surfacing of “selfies” in which he sported a Hitler-style moustache and hairstyle.

The pendulum swung back a few months later, as tens of thousands of asylum-seekers — many fleeing war in mostly Muslim countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan — poured into Germany each week.

Bachmann has repeatedly labelled the newcomers “criminal invaders” while also railing against “traitor” politicians and the “liar press”, whom he blames for jointly promoting multiculturalism.

A trained chef and now running a public relations agency, Bachmann has previously been convicted of drug, theft and assault charges.

In the late 1990s, he fled Germany for South Africa to avoid a jail term, but was extradited two years later and served some 14 months behind bars in Germany.

Source: Berlin (AFP)

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