A German policeman whose tattoos and Hitler salutes indicate far-right extremist attitudes can be fired from his job, a court has decided. Tattoos are a particularly intensive display of personal views, it said.
A German court on Friday ruled that a policeman who had far-right extremist symbols tattooed on his body and was proven to have made the Nazi salute in public could be dismissed from his job.
In their verdict, the judges in the eastern German city of Leipzig said that anyone who rejected the constitutional principles of freedom, democracy and the rule of law was not fit to be in public service, and that tattoos of neo-Nazi symbols were an adequate reason for supposing that a person had "permanently renounced" those principles.
"An officer's duty of loyalty can also be violated by the wearing of tattoos with anti-constitutional content," presiding judge Ulf Domgörgen said. "One can barely imagine any more intensive confession of inner convictions than having them tattooed on so they can be communicated to the outside world."
Among other things, the man had tattoos showing the music of the notorious Nazi anthem, the "Horst-Wessel-Lied," which has been banned in Germany since the end of World War II.
In addition, Nazi memorabilia were found in the man's apartment, while there are several pictures showing him making the Nazi salute.
The ruling came after the man had made two successful appeals over the past few years against his dismissal in 2007 by authorities in the state of Berlin. Prosecutors there had investigated him, among other things, for alleged involvement in producing CDs containing hate speech.
Although he was given a fine of €300 ($354) for having an unauthorized secondary occupation, he has received his pay up to now, despite being suspended from active work.
A spokesman for the police union GdP in Berlin said it was relieved at the court's ruling, adding that "a Nazi" had benefited for years from a "lame system."
"We are pleased that the Federal Administrative Court has finally put a stop to this today," Benjamin Jendro said. "Now it should be established as quickly as possible whether this person still has connections to like-minded sympathizers in active service."
tj/ng (dpa, epd)