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Germany

German Far-Right Politician Faces Embezzlement Charges

The treasurer of the German far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) was arrested for allegedly embezzling money from the organization, police said.

Supporters of the National Democratic Party (NPD) carry flags during a demonstration

Police are scrutinizing the NPD's finances

Erwin Kemna, national treasurer of the NPD, was detained after a Thursday, Feb. 7, raid on the party's headquarters in Berlin.

The search of the NPD's Berlin headquarters was part of a year-long investigation by prosecutors in Münster and police in western Germany against the party official, Berlin police spokesman Uwe Kozelnik said.

According to prosecutor Hans-Jochen Wagner, Kemna is suspected of having embezzled 627,000 euros ($910,000) from the party's treasury.

The 57-year-old party official allegedly made 65 electronic transfers between 2004 and 2007 from the NPD to a gift shop boutique he owns in the western German town of Ladbergen.

If found guilty, Kemna could face between 5 and 10 years in prison.

Party spokesman Klaus Beier confirmed that dozens of police officials had searched the party's Berlin offices for several hours on Thursday. Beier said the raid came as a surprise and that he did not know the exact accusations against Kemna and could not comment on them

Political outcasts

Senior prosecutor Hans-Jochen Wagner talks about the case at a press conference

Prosecutor Hans-Jochen Wagner talks about the case

The NPD campaigns against foreigners in Germany, but denies it is a neo-Nazi party. The NPD does not have any seats in Germany's federal parliament, but is represented in two state assemblies in eastern Germany. According to the German government, the NDP received more than 1.3 million euros in state money in 2006.

NPD's nationalist, xenophobic messages and its outreach to overtly neo-Nazi groups has made it the outcast of Germany's mainstream parties.

Party leader in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Udo Pastörs, was thrown out of the state assembly last week after he railed against Jews immigrating to Germany.

An attempt by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government to ban the NPD faltered in 2003 after the Federal Constitutional Court refused to hear the case because the government had infiltrated the party with informants in high places.

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