In Slovakia Police charge far-right leader with promoting extremism

Slovak police on Friday said they had charged far-right leader Marian Kotleba with promoting extremism, over cheques he gave to poor families for a sum that carries symbolic weight in neo-Nazi circles.

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Marian Kotleba, who leads the Kotleba-People's Party Our Slovakia (LSNS), has been charged with "promoting sympathy towards a movement aimed at suppressing fundamental rights and freedoms," police spokesman Martin Waldl told AFP play

Marian Kotleba, who leads the Kotleba-People's Party Our Slovakia (LSNS), has been charged with "promoting sympathy towards a movement aimed at suppressing fundamental rights and freedoms," police spokesman Martin Waldl told AFP

(AFP/File)
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Slovak police on Friday said they had charged far-right leader Marian Kotleba with promoting extremism, over cheques he gave to poor families for a sum that carries symbolic weight in neo-Nazi circles.

Kotleba, who leads the Kotleba-People's Party Our Slovakia (LSNS), was charged on July 20 and accused of "promoting sympathy towards a movement aimed at suppressing fundamental rights and freedoms," police spokesman Martin Waldl told AFP.

Local media reported that the charge stemmed from a charity event LSNS organised in March.

According to the local pluska.sk news site, Kotleba handed out three larger-than-life cheques for 1,488 euros ($1,748) at the event. The number 1,488 is a well-known neo-Nazi symbol.

"I can confirm that this member of parliament was accused in connection with the cheques for 1,488 euros," interior ministry spokesman Ivan Netik told AFP.

Kotleba faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

The former teacher, who has been charged with hate speech in the past, is notorious for having led street marches with party members dressed in black neo-Nazi uniforms before he entered parliament.

Governor of his native central region of Banska Bystrica, he is hostile to both the Roma minority and the established elite. He has spoken warmly of former president Jozef Tiso, who agreed to deport tens of thousands of Jews to Nazi Germany during World War II.

His party has campaigned heavily against letting migrants into the country and won seats in parliament for the first time in March 2016.

It currently has 14 MPs sitting in the 150-member parliament.

In May, prosecutors asked the Supreme Court to ban the far-right party.

There is evidence that the LSNS "is an extremist political party with fascist tendencies," Andrea Predajnova, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor general, said at the time.

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