Both the Sächsische Zeitung and Würzburg's Main Post reported that the xenophobic movement's leader used money from Pegida's fundraising association to pay off €5,000 court costs of two cases brought against him as an individual.
Pegida leader 'paid court costs with group's money'
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann. Photo: DPA.
26 October 2016
The leader of the anti-Islam movement reportedly used money from Pegida's coffers to pay for two personal court cases, German media reported this week.
On his private Facebook page last year, Bachmann had insulted two mayors who were photographed helping refugees with their suitcases.
“Both of these diversity-mayor-dimwits have schlepped some fine, press-friendly suitcases,” Bachmann wrote in a comment on the image and news reports about the mayors.
The mayors took issue with Bachmann's use of the word “Depp” - meaning idiot or dimwit - and took him to court, arguing that he had personally insulted and degraded them as individuals.
They further argued that the comments had been part of Bachmann's “regular wave of hate comments” and his “smear campaign against refugees, foreigners and those responsible” for helping asylum seekers.
The Pegida leader was also charged last October of inciting hatred through a series of Facebook posts about refugees, and sentenced in May to pay a fine of €9,600. He is appealing the verdict.
Bachmann ultimately deleted the post about the mayors, and a court in Würzburg ruled in February that he had to pay for the cost of both cases against him, amounting to €5,000.
Reporting by the two newspapers though found that Bachmann paid this €5,000 using money from Pegida's fundraising club, as confirmed by the mayors' lawyer.
Bachmann has fired back against the newspaper reports, defending the use of the association's funds for members' court cases, though he did not outright admit to paying the €5,000 with Pegida funds.
He argued on Facebook that “if a Pegida member posts something on a site belonging to the group” - including on his own personal page - “then it is the most normal thing in the world that the association would pay for the court case.”
“This is absolutely in accordance with the statutes of the group's resolution, as it clearly states that all costs of proceedings against the association and its members will be taken up by the association, if the posts in question are in line with the logic, goals and context of Pegida,” Bachmann continued.
“This is to protect members, avoid damage from political activities of members, and so that we don't endanger the normal actions of the group.”
He also implied that he did not write the post about the mayors, saying that it's not always clear which of the “innumerable” page administrators write particular posts.
While Bachmann's Facebook defence gained around 200 likes, he has also been battling infighting within the movement. During the Dresden-founded group's regular Monday rallies recently, a smaller splinter group formed to protest against his leadership.