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German far-right politician sentenced to jail for Nazi death camp tattoo

A court has sentenced an NPD politician to eight months in prison for openly displaying a tattoo with a Nazi slogan and an image of Auschwitz death camp. The man showed the back tattoo at a Brandenburg pool last year.

Neuruppin Berufungsprozess um Nazi-Tattoo Marcel Z Anwalt (picture-alliance/dpa/B. Settnik)

The NPD politician's appeal garnered a harsher sentence than his first trial

A district court in Neuruppin, north of Berlin, found far-right Brandenburg politician Marcel Zech guilty of sedition and sentenced him to eight months behind bars on Monday for showing his Nazi-style tattoo.

The back tattoo featured the message at the front gate to the Buchenwald concentration camp - "Jedem das Seine" or "To each his own" - as well as a picture of the Auschwitz concentration camp. A reporter took a picture of the tattoo last November when Zech removed his shirt at a public swimming pool.

Monday's verdict is a much harsher punishment on appeal than the six-month suspended sentence Zech received last December.

Judge Jörn Kalbow said a lesser sentence could have been interpreted as "the state backing down in the face of right-wing radicalism," German news agency dpa reported.

The 28-year-old far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) politician appeared shocked when the sentence was read out on Monday. His lawyer already said the decision would once again be appealed to a higher court.

According to dpa, Zech's lawyer told the court the tattoo had been changed to cover up the Auschwitz drawing with images of Max and Moritz - two characters from a well-known German children's tale. The "Jedem das Seine" slogan, however, remains.

Zech was ordered to hide his tattoo in public after his first trial, but the initial open display of the back tattoo raised concerns about the brazenness of Germany's far right as the country deals with an influx of refugees.

Germany's constitutional court is due to deliver a long-awaited verdict in January on whether or not the neo-Nazi NPD should be banned altogether in Germany. The party promotes the belief that natural law makes different people inherently unequal.

rs/jm (AP, AFP, dpa)

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