Chancellor tells far right to dump politician
By Steve Pagani
VIENNA, March 24 (Reuter) – Austrian Chancellor Franz
Vranitzky called on the far-right opposition Freedom Party on
Friday to drop a prominent member whose son is on trial for
Freedom Party leader Joerg Haider in turn warned the member
to distance himself publicly from his son.
Social Democrat Vranitzky said Haider should remove
Hans-Joerg Schimanek senior from his seat in the regional
parliament of Lower Austria province because he had not spoken
out against his son’s political activities.
“There is one thing Haider can do for Austria and that is
remove Schimanek from the Lower Austria assembly. Schimanek
senior has been quiet for too long,” the chancellor said in a
Schimanek’s son, Hans-Joerg Schimanek Jr, was on trial for a
fifth day in a Vienna court, accused of leading an extremist
paramilitary group and belonging to a banned neo-Nazi
“If he does not condemn what his son has been doing, then
he is, through his silence, condoning rightwing extremism,”
Haider’s party became the biggest far-right parliamentary
grouping in Europe after winning nearly a quarter of the vote in
Austria’s general election in October.
Haider has spoken out against a series of suspected neo-Nazi
bomb attacks on foreigners in Austria in the past 15 months. And
with support on the rise, he has begun to moderate his radical
anti-immigrant language in an attempt to win backing from the
Responding to a question on Schimanek Snr, Haider was quoted
by Der Standard newspaper as saying: “If he does not distance
himself from his son, then we don’t want anything more to do
Schimanek Jr, 31, a former professional soldier, has
apologised to the court for organising combat sessions for young
men in the vineyards of Langenlois, near Vienna. Part of the
training concentrated on throat-slitting.
But he denies membership of an extreme right group, the
People’s Loyal Extraparliamentary Opposition (VAPO), led by
Gottfried Kuessel who was jailed in September for 11 years.
If convicted, Schimanek faces a maximum sentence of life
imprisonment. But he would be unlikely to receive a longer jail
term than Kuessel.
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r i.. BC-GERMANY-EXTREMISTS 03-24 0567
Germans criticise U.S. for not helping fight neo-Nazis
By Michael Christie
BONN, March 24 (Reuter) – German justice officials
criticised their American counterparts on Friday for failing to
help Bonn track down and silence a leading American neo-Nazi who
has smuggled hate literature into Germany for two decades.
But prosecutors said they expected Denmark to extradite the
neo-Nazi, Gary Lauck, who fled there from the United States. In
the past attempts to have Copenhagen help fight German
extremists have failed.
Bonn had two major successes in its fight against neo-Nazis
this week when Lauck was arrested in Denmark on Monday and
masses of his banned propaganda was seized in raids on 80 flats
around Germany on Thursday.
The BKA federal police agency said it had pleaded for years
to U.S. justice authorities to investigate Lauck, who runs a
Nazi publishing empire from Lincoln, Nebraska.
“We have frequently applied to have Lauck’s premises
searched but the Americans were unwilling to help in any way,
even after contact was taken up as high as the ministerial
level,” a spokesman told reporters in Hamburg.
German radio quoted intellignece service reports as saying
Lauck had left the United States for Denmark because he had come
under pressure from American civil rights groups.
A spokesman for the Hamburg public prosecutor said his
arrest could herald a crackdown in Denmark and added: “We are
extremely hopeful that Lauck will be extradited and will face
trial in Hamburg.”
The use of Nazi symbols and slogans is banned in Germany.
Giving the straight-arm salute or waving the swastika flag can
lead to up to five years in jail.
Denmark, the United States, Canada and other countries have
more liberal free speech laws which neo-Nazis have been able to
exploit to publish beyond the reach of German police.
Bonn, which tightened its laws against the far-right when
neo-Nazi violence surged after German unification in 1990, has
long complained that other countries were not ready to curb
their freedom of expression to help it.
The Germans have for years sought the extradition from
Denmark of 76-year-old neo-Nazi Ties Christophersen. They have
also wanted to question Ernst Zuendel in Canada.
Lauck, who spent four months in a German jail in 1976 for
peddling Nazi propaganda, heads the National Socialist German
Workers’ Party – Foreign Organisation (NSDAP-AO), a name derived
from the official title of Adolf Hitler’s party.
His group publishes Nazi magazines in a dozen languages and
produces millions of racist stickers, posters and armbands.
In their Thursday raids, police seized about 10,000 swastika
stickers, 200 copies of Lauck’s NS Kampfruf (”Battle Cry”)
magazine, many Nazi flags and several weapons.
Ernst Uhrlau, head of Hamburg’s anti-extremist security
agency, said it would be a major strike against the neo-Nazi
underground if Lauck could be brought to trial in Germany.
“The NSDAP-AO has been very important for German neo-Nazis
in the last 15 to 20 years because it managed to distribute
important publications and also propaganda from a safe area,”
Uhrlau told Germany’s all-news N-TV television station.
“When Lauck stands before a German court and is jailed, the
NSDAP-AO publications will be headless and leaderless and an
important propaganda instrument will have been silenced. That
would be a massive blow against neo-Nazism in Germany.”