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German pastor accused of inciting violence at anti-Nazi protest warns trial may deter activism


FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2013 file picture Lothar Koenig, center, takes part in a demonstration in Dresden, eastern Germany, to commemorate and remember the victims of WWII aerial bombing. The German priest, due to stand trial Thursday Aoril 4, 2013 for allegedly orchestrating attacks on police at an anti-Nazi demonstration, says his conviction would send a chilling message to people opposed to right-wing extremists.Lothar Koenig faces several years in prison if convicted of serious breach of the peace, attempting to obstruct justice and attempted coercion at a protest in the eastern city of Dresden two years ago.Koenig denies the charges and insists that he was part of a group who trying peacefully to stop thousands of neo-Nazis from marching through Dresden Feb. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/dpa, Arno Burgi,File) (The Associated Press)

A German pastor due to stand trial for allegedly inciting violence at an anti-Nazi demonstration says authorities risk deterring people from standing up to right-wing extremists if he is convicted.

Prosecutors accuse Lothar Koenig of serious breach of the peace and other crimes at a protest in the eastern city of Dresden Feb. 19, 2011.

His trial starts Thursday; he faces several years in prison if convicted.

Koenig denies the charges and says he was part of a group trying peacefully to block thousands of neo-Nazis from commemorating German victims of Allied bombings in World War II.

The Lutheran pastor said Tuesday that, if he is found guilty, many in eastern Germany, where far-right groups are particularly active, would take it as a message from authorities to "not get involved."