Neo-Nazi Leader Convicted of Torturing Followers
NUREMBERG, West Germany (AP) _ A West German court Monday convicted the leader of an outlawed neo-Nazi group of torturing followers at a camp in Lebanon but acquitted him in the 1980 murder of a prominent Jewish publisher.
Karl-Heinz Hoffmann, 48, head of the Hoffman Sport Defense Group, was sentenced to nine years in prison. He was convicted of aggravated assault and false imprisonment in connection with activities in Lebanon.
Chief prosecuting attorney Joerg Schwalm charged that Hoffmann, who founded his group in 1973, was training people to ″overthrow democracy in the Federal Republic (West Germany) and establish a fascist dictatorship.″
Prosecutors said Hoffman’s 400-member band of extreme rightists went to Lebanon for paramilitary training after it was outlawed in West Germany in 1980.
The prosecution said that while Hoffman was in Lebanon he ordered the torture of followers with whom he had disputes. The alleged incidents took place in a Palestine Liberation Organization camp.
In the other case, the Nuremberg court said it found no proof that Hoffmann ordered Jewish publisher Shlomo Lewin and a woman companion shot to death at Lewin’s home in suburban Erlangen.
Hoffmann’s girlfriend, Franziska Birkmann, 39, was convicted Monday of complicity in making counterfeit money for the group. She was sentenced to six months in prison.
Hoffmann was arrested at Frankfurt airport in June 1981. His trial began in September 1984 and involved testimony by 109 witnesses.