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14/08/2009Far-right can use banned slogan in English
The Federal Court of Justice overruled a 4,200-euro fine imposed by a lower court against the owner of 100 t-shirts with the slogan "Blood & Honour" in English emblazoned across the front.
Berlin -- A German federal court ruled Thursday that far-right organisations may use banned Nazi slogans if they are in a foreign language, overturning the conviction of an extremist militant.
The Federal Court of Justice overruled a 4,200-euro (6,000-dollar) fine imposed by a lower court against the owner of 100 t-shirts with the slogan "Blood & Honour" in English emblazoned across the front.
Authorities had deemed the shirts to be in violation of Germany's strict laws banning Nazi slogans as it referred to a German rallying cry used in the 1930s and 1940s by the Hitler Youth, a wing of the SA paramilitary organisation that helped pave the Nazis' path to power.
"Blood & Honour" is now an internationally active far-right organisation whose German branch has been outlawed here.
The federal court said the use of the slogan in English decoupled it from its Nazi-era connotations and thus could not fall under a law banning the use of symbols from unconstitutional organisations.
But it criticised the lower court for failing to consider other charges against the defendant and referred the case back for a new trial.
"The lower court did not review whether the accused, by possessing t-shirts with an aggressive slogan, could be guilty of distributing propaganda for unconstitutional organisations or for abetting the organisational cohesion of the banned group Blood & Honor," it said in a statement.
Meanwhile Berlin police raided homes of 12 alleged members of the far-right group "Frontbann 24", which models itself on the paramilitary group Frontbann that was founded in 1924 and eventually transformed into the SA.
Authorities turned up narcotics and "promotional materials" such as pins and ballpoint pens featuring a Nazi swastika, which is also outlawed in Germany, the Berlin state prosecutor's office said in a statement.
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