Accusation of Soccer Race Baiting: Head of Germany's Far-Right NPD Charged With Racial Incitement
The head of Germany's far-right National Democratic Party faces trial for publishing a racist pamphlet ahead of Germany's 2006 Soccer World Cup. He has been charged with incitement because the pamphlet suggested that a black German soccer player had no place on the German team.
Former German army officer Udo Voigt has been chairman of the NPD for over 10 years.
The Berlin public prosecutor's office said Tuesday that Voigt and two other senior members of the NPD would face trial for implying in 2006 that Patrick Owomoyela -- the professional soccer player, who is the son of a German mother and a Nigerian father -- should not play for the German team in the World Cup that year because he is black.
The party had published a World Cup match schedule leaflet in 2006 that depicted a man shown from behind with the number 25 on the back of his German national team shirt, which was Owomoyela's designated number in the national team lineup. Above the photo was the caption: "White. Not just the color of a team shirt! For a true national team!"
The prosecutor's office named Voigt and two other NPD members as having been responsible for the content of the leaflet. The other members are NPD spokesman Klaus Beier, who is also the chairman of the NPD regional party in the state of Brandenburg, and Frank Schwerdt, who leads the party in the eastern state of Thuringia.
The police had confiscated 70,000 copies of the leaflet after Owomoyela obtained a court injunction against it. The party then published a second version of the leaflet, which prosecutors said also incited racism against black soccer players.
A date for the trial has not been set. The charge is the latest in a series of cases against leading members of a party that the government tried unsuccessfully to ban five years ago.
In February the NPD's treasurer, Erwin Kemna, was arrested on suspicion of misappropriating around 600,000 ($924,000) in party funds. The Hamburg NPD chief, Jürgen Rieger, was charged last year on suspicion of denying the Holocaust, which is a crime in Germany.
Voigt, 55, was a captain in the German army, the Bundeswehr, and has been chairman of the NPD for more than 10 years.
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