Europe

German politician sentenced to prison over Nazi camp tattoo

Far-right politician Marcel Zech is waiting for the beginning of the appeal case with his lawyer Wolfram Nahrath, rear, at a courtroom in Neuruppin, Germany

Far-right politician Marcel Zech is waiting for the beginning of the appeal case with his lawyer Wolfram Nahrath, rear, at a courtroom in Neuruppin, Germany  (AP)

A German court sentenced a far-right politician to eight months in prison on Monday for displaying a Nazi-style tattoo, siding with prosecutors and stiffening the suspended term he originally received.

The case against Marcel Zech centered on a tattoo that appeared to combine an image of the Auschwitz death camp with the slogan from the Buchenwald concentration camp's gate, "Jedem das Seine" -- "to each his own."

The 28-year-old admitted displaying the tattoo while visiting a swimming pool. Prosecutors appealed after a district court in Oranienburg gave him a six-month suspended sentence in December.

Zech, a member of the far-right National Democratic Party, also had appealed that verdict and sought an acquittal.

On Monday, a state court in Neuruppin, north of Berlin, upheld the defendant's conviction for incitement and imposed the new sentence, news agency dpa reported.

Presiding judge Joern Kalbow said as he announced the ruling that the public might view a suspended sentence as "the state retreating in the face of right-wing radicalism." Kalbow noted that Germany has been seeing increasing numbers of xenophobic crimes.

Defense lawyer Wolfram Nahrath said he would appeal again to a higher court.

During the hearing, Nahrath told judges that Zech had since altered the offending tattoo as a result of the "exceptional denunciation" of him resulting from the case and because he wanted to be able to keep going to the swimming pool with his children.

Prosecutor Torsten Lowitsch said the image of Auschwitz has been replaced by Max and Moritz, figures from a well-known German children's tale. However, Lowitsch said the tattoo still includes the slogan "to each his own."