• Germany's news in English
 
Protesters fined €200 for blocking neo-Nazi demo
Anti-Nazi protesters at a rally in Berlin in 2007. Photo: DPA

Protesters fined €200 for blocking neo-Nazi demo

Published: 22 Jan 2014 15:20 GMT+01:00

Among them is the former Green Party leader on Munich City Council, Siegfried Benker, who is furious at what he calls the "extraordinary meticulousness” of authorities.

"Of course I won't pay the fine," Benker told The Local. "It's absolutely not in the public interest."  

The fines relate to two neo-Nazi rallies which took place in the city in 2012.

In January, anti-Nazi protesters blocked the path of a far-right demonstration at the Sendlinger Tor in the historic centre. No violence was reported but 20 of the protesters have since been issued with fines.

They were outraged the Pink Panther tune had been played at the rally just weeks after a video made by the National Socialist Underground (NSU) terror cell featuring the same song was made public.

The far-right group is thought to be responsible for the deaths of at least ten people and the trial of surviving member Beate Zschäpe is still ongoing.

"Just consider the timing,” Benker said. “It was only weeks after the NSU video came out. Playing that song was clearly an endorsement of the murders they committed.”

Benker was also part of a group of protesters who impeded the course of a mini-bus ferrying members of the far-right Citizens’ Initiative to Stop Immigrants (BIA) in the Westend area of the city in July of 2012. Eighteen protesters have been issued with fines.

CLICK HERE for more news from Munich

Police did not intervene to stop the anti-Nazi demonstrators, but they collected photographic evidence at the demonstration which they later passed on to city authorities.

Those authorities then spent two years analyzing the footage, which they used to identify the protesters blocking the demonstrations.

"They engaged in relentless investigations to track us down," Benker said. "And we're talking about what was, undeniably, a peaceful protest."

 According to Benker, local authorities had the option of dropping the case but chose instead to "focus disproportionately" on identifying the anti-Nazi protesters rather than neo-Nazis.

Munich authorities have defended their actions, claiming their investigation of the case was part of normal procedure.

The city council department responsible for issuing the fines said it was obliged to adopt a politically neutral stance and could not waive fines according to “personal conviction”.

However, its spokeswoman Daniela Schlegel told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that city authorities welcomed and encouraged anti-Nazi initiatives.

For Siegfried Benker that is a contradiction in terms. "This is going to discourage people from attending anti-Nazi protests," he told The Local.

The former Green Party councillor also claims that police in Munich crack own more heavily on left-wing demonstrators than their right-wing counterparts. "It's part of an outdated right/left wing schema," he said.

Benker, along with others have formally refused to pay up and have launched an official appeal against the penalty. A decision is expected in the coming weeks.    

READ MORE: States try to ban neo-Nazi party

For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Kate Ferguson (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law
Photo: DPA

Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law

The German Ethics Council said the law should not be changed to permit assisted suicide in a paper published on Friday. READ  

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin
Swan Lake. An abandoned ride in the Spreewald pleasure park. Photo: DPA

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin

The iconic ruined themepark in the centre of Berlin - a long-time favourite of hipster adventurers - needs a clean-up costing at least 14 million euros, the Berlin government has revealed. READ  

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer
File photo of Nuremberg main station: Shutterstock

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer

Officers in Nuremberg arrested a man on Thursday evening after he called in a false bomb threat against the main train station READ  

Opinion
Angela, David...and Nigel
So near...and yet so far Photo: DPA

Angela, David...and Nigel

The rise of UKIP broke up what had been a good 2014 for Cameron and Merkel. READ  

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead
Dr Gunther von Hagens. Photo: DPA

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead

A Berlin court has said that infamous human taxidermist Gunther von Hagens can open a museum in the capital - over objections from local officials. READ  

Presented by Phorms Education
Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech
Photo: Phorms Education

Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech

As parents fret over children’s internet habits, a network of bilingual schools in Germany shows that putting computers in the classroom from an early age yields positive results. READ  

Networks scramble to patch mobile security
Chancellor Angela Merkel has herself been the victim of phone hacking. Photo: DPA

Networks scramble to patch mobile security

IT experts led by Berlin-based Karsten Nohl said on Thursday they had discovered security flaws in the mobile phone networks that would allow attackers to read users' messages. READ  

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport
Photo: DPA

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport

Three men suspected of being Turkish agents have been arrested by police, federal prosecutors said on Thursday. READ  

Tax take jumps 7.3 percent in November
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is having an excellent month. Photo: DPA

Tax take jumps 7.3 percent in November

Germany collected 7.3 percent more in tax in November 2014 than the same month last year thanks to the strengthening economy, the Finance Ministry said in its monthly report on Thursday, while pollsters found rising consumer confidence. READ  

Ramelow bunks off his first Bundesrat sitting
Bodo Ramelow looking low on energy at a sitting of the Thuringia state parliament. Photo: DPA

Ramelow bunks off his first Bundesrat sitting

Controversial new Thuringia minister-president Bodo Ramelow of the Left (Linke) party missed his first session of Germany's second house of parliament, the Bundesrat, to go on holiday with his family. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Willy Brandt at his inauguration in 1972. Photo: DPA
National
Willy Brandt: the man, the chancellor... the airport?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Sponsored Article
Why are these International Baccalaureate students cheering?
Germany's national football team lifts the World Cup trophy
Gallery
Germany's most-Googled words of 2014
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Stuff your face with these festive German cookies
Photo: DPA
Culture
What do beer, breakfast cereal and dildos have in common?
Culture
The Local's guide to German Christmas markets
Sponsored Article
Top five quirky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles through December 19th
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,197
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd