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German court upholds fine against PEGIDA front man Lutz Bachmann for inciting hatred

The founder of the xenophobic PEGIDA movement must pay 9,600 euros for dubbing refugees "cattle," "garbage" and a "dirty bunch." He has since relocated to Tenerife, where local officials have said he is unwelcome.

A state court in the eastern German city of Dresden ruled on Wednesday that Lutz Bachmann must be fined 9,600 euros ($10,200) after being found guilty of inciting hatred against foreigners.

In a Facebook post last year, the co-founder of the xenophobic PEGIDA movement referred to refugees as "cattle," "garbage" and a "dirty bunch."

The PEGIDA leader, who did not appear in court on Wednesday, was originally handed the fine in May by a lower court. Both the prosecution and Bachmann's defense team had appealed the decision, but on Wednesday they both dropped their appeals based on the recommendation of the judge. 

Throughout initial court proceedings Bachmann's lawyers argued that someone else posted the comments on his account.

However, the court watched video footage of a PEGIDA rally in January 2015, where Bachmann appeared to be defending the Facebook comments, saying he had merely "used words that everyone

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Bachmann trial - Talk with Ralf Melzer, expert on right-wing extremism

has used at least once."

The 43 year old also previously described refugees as "criminal invaders" and claimed that the "lying press" is colluding with the government to promote a romanticized version of multiculturalism.

Dwindling figures

PEGIDA bitterly opposes Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door refugee policy and for the last two years has held weekly rallies in opposition to what its members perceive as the Islamization of German society by Muslim immigrants.

At the height of its popularity in January 2015, the movement saw a turnout of some 25,000 protesters. Numbers have declined in recent months, however, with just 5,000 PEGIDA supporters marching at October's anniversary rally.

'Persona non grata'

The Dresden-born firebrand also has a string of criminal offenses to his name, including dealing cocaine, aggravated theft, drunk driving and failure to pay child support. In the late 1990s he fled Germany for South Africa to avoid a jail term. He was extradited two years later and served some 14 months behind bars in Germany.

In a bizarre move last month, Bachmann relocated again - this time to the island of Tenerife, just off the northwest Aftrican coast. According to local media, however, officials have told the Pegida front man he is unwelcome on the Canary Islands.

ksb/ls (AFP, dpa, epd)

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