Crime Infested Quarter of NPD Officials Have Been Prosecuted
Around one-quarter of the leadership of Germany's extremist National Democratic Party has been convicted of a crime, according to a newspaper report. The news could add fuel to the national debate over whether to ban the party.
Almost one-third of officials within Germany's far-right National Democratic Party has either been convicted of criminal offenses or the subject of investigation for suspicion of committing them, the Berliner Zeitung newspaper reported in its Monday edition.
The newspaper cited an as yet unpublished petition by Germany's states seeking to ban the far-right NPD. Earlier this month, the sixteen states filed a motion with the Federal Constitutional Court in the city of Karlsruhe to outlaw the party, arguing it espouses a racist, violent ideology similar to Hitler's Nazi party.
Thirty-one percent of 176 NPD leaders is currently under criminal investigation or has already been convicted by a court, according to the states' legal submission, the newspaper reported. The report also states that a quarter of the party's officials have been convicted.
The verdicts and investigations against the NPD leadership reference politically motivated crimes that date back to the 1990s, including assault and battery, coercion, material damage, violation of the public peace, violation of the assault weapons law and the creation of criminal and terrorist groups.
The legal move against the NPD by Germany's states comes a decade after a similar bid by the federal government failed in 2003. This time around, Chancellor Angela Merkel's federal government in Berlin declined to back the petition to the Constitutional Court, despite pressure from Germany's Turkish, Jewish and Roma communities. The new initiative was spurred by increasingly vocal public opposition to right-wing extremism following the discovery of the National Socialist Underground in 2011, a neo-Nazi terrorist group that has claimed responsibility for the murder of 10 mostly Turkish immigrants between 2000 and 2007. NPD officials deny any association with those murders.
The states contend that the NPD -- an official political party with 5,400 members and access to government funding -- poses a significant threat to German democracy. However, many experts argue that the NPD's limited national support, at 1.3 percent in the most recent federal election, make such an argument a challenge to prove in court.