U.S. Neo-Nazi Sentenced To Four Years In Prison
HAMBURG, Germany (AP) _ Shouting ``The fight will go on!″ American neo-Nazi Gary Lauck was convicted today of illegally distributing hate propaganda in Germany and sentenced to four years in prison.
The Hamburg state court found Lauck guilty on charges of inciting racial hatred and distributing propaganda of organizations that violate the German constitution. Lauck’s lawyer said he would appeal.
Lauck, 43, an admitted admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nazi ideology, prints his publications in the United States and mails them to neo-Nazis abroad, including Germany, from his base in Lincoln, Neb.
Lauck’s attorney Hans-Otto Sieg said his client’s actions were legal under U.S. constitutional guarantees of free speech and he should be acquitted.
German prosecutors had sought a five-year prison term. The prison time Lauck has served since his March 1995 arrest was deducted from the sentence.
Lauck, who never spoke in his own defense during the three-month trial, railed against the verdict before being led out of the courtroom back to his Hamburg jail cell.
``Neither the communists nor the Nazis ever dared to kidnap an American citizen!″ he shouted in German. ``The fight will go on!″
Explaining the verdict, presiding judge Guenter Bertram told the court Germany must remain vigilant against neo-Nazi propaganda.
Lauck ``would like to be the world’s greatest Nazi propagandist and the Fuehrer’s most glowing follower,″ he said.
Prosecutors said Lauck has been German fascists’ main supplier of brochures, Nazi and neo-Nazi stickers, arm bands, banners and signs for two decades.
Pro-Hitler, anti-Jewish publications, which deny that the Holocaust occurred, are protected by the U.S. Constitution but are illegal in Germany.
Lauck was arrested on an international warrant from Germany when he attended a convention of neo-Nazis in Denmark in March 1995. In September, he was extradited to Germany on the basis of a little-used Danish law that bans racist statements.
Lauck heads the National Socialist German Workers’ Party-Overseas Organization, which was banned in Germany in 1974. He distributes the ``NS-Battle Cry″ newsletter, which is also illegal in Germany.
In his closing arguments last week, prosecutor Bernd Mauruschat said Lauck remained unrepentant and should not be dismissed as a harmless eccentric who praises Hitler and denies the Holocaust took place.
``Lauck turned many young people against democracy,″ said Mauruschat.
Sieg, Lauck’s lawyer, said the trial was illegal because Germany had no right to tell a U.S. citizen what to do in the United States.
``I am a Nazi, but this isn’t about my views, it’s about the Constitution,″ Lauck told The Dallas Morning News this week in an interview from a Hamburg prison.
``Here I am, a newspaper publisher, and I was kidnapped abroad and taken to a third country and thrown in jail for something that is totally legal in the United States.″