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

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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."