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A prominent German far-right figure accused for the second time of using a Nazi slogan

BERLIN (AP) — Prosecutors said Wednesday they have charged one of the most prominent figures of the far-right Alternative for Germany party on a second charge of uttering a slogan used by Nazi SA stormtroopers during a political event.

Björn Höcke was scheduled to stand trial in Halle on April 18. Prosecutors in the eastern city said they would seek to add the new count to those proceedings.

Höcke, 52, is the leader of the regional branch of Alternative for Germany, or AfD, in the neighboring state of Thuringia and an influential figure within the party’s far right. He will lead the campaign in the state elections on September 1.

In the case that is already before the court, Höcke is accused of using symbols of unconstitutional organizations. He is accused of ending a speech in Merseburg in May 2021 with the words “Everything for Germany!”

Prosecutors allege he was aware of the phrase’s origins as an SA slogan. They say Höcke’s lawyers denied his words had any “criminal relevance.”

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In the new case, prosecutors allege he repeated the offense at an AfD event in Gera, in his home state, on December 12 last year, “in certain knowledge of the criminality” of the slogan.

They said in a statement that Höcke said “Anything for…” and encouraged the crowd to shout “Germany!” to call. Höcke has not yet responded to the latest charges, she added.

The AfD branch in Thuringia has a particularly radical reputation and is seen by Germany’s domestic intelligence service as a “proven right-wing extremist” group.

Höcke once called Berlin’s Holocaust memorial a “monument of shame” and called on Germany to make a “180 degree turn” in the way it remembers its past. A party court at the time rejected a bid to deport him.

National opinion polls in recent months show the AfD in second place behind the mainstream conservative opposition, and the party is particularly strong in the former communist east.

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