For 30 years Irmela Mensah-Schramm has been painting over neo-Nazi slogans she has found sprayed on walls throughout Germany.
The 70-year-old’s past-time seems to have gone down well with officialdom – she has won several awards for her work, including the German Order of Merit medal and the “Active for Democracy and Tolerance” award, handed out by the federal government.
But now the state has given the ex-kindergarten teacher a rather different award – a suspended €1,800 euro fine for property damage.
The Supreme Court in Berlin handed down the ruling on Wednesday after Mensah-Schramm had turned a piece of graffiti which read “Merkel muss weg” (Merkel must go) into “Merke! Hass weg!” (Take note! Away with hate!).
— Berliner Zeitung (@berlinerzeitung) October 6, 2016
If Mensah-Schramm is caught repeat offending within the next 12 months, she will have to cough up the large sum of cash.
The German media was almost universal in its condemnation of the decision.
The court, meanwhile, appeared to blame the prosecution for the verdict.
“The judge would have preferred to have discontinued the trial due to limited culpability, but the prosecutor wouldn’t agree,” a court spokesperson said, adding that the judge handed down the mildest possible penalty.
Mensah-Schramm has announced that she will appeal the verdict.
“I’m waiting for a written justification of the verdict and then I will go to appeal,” she said.
“And of course I’ll keep doing it,” she added defiantly.