German neo-Nazi ban rejected

BBC, Mar. 18, 2003
http://news.bbc.co.uk/

Germany’s constitutional court has rejected a request from the goverment and parliament to outlaw the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) party.

“The proceedings have been dismissed,” said presiding judge Winfried Hassemer.

The court’s ruling comes more than a year after it emerged that the government had informants in the party, raising questions about whether any could have acted as provocateurs.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s government has made a major effort to outlaw the party since a wave of hate crimes in 2000.

Both houses of parliament also petitioned the court in 2001 to ban the fringe party, calling it a threat to German democracy.

But the party maintains it is the victim of a government smear campaign.

It alleges that the informants made inflammatory speeches and recruited violent neo-Nazis to help the government case.

The government denies planting provocateurs.

Three of the seven judges decided that the informers’ presence made it impossible to proceed with the ban.

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