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Slovak far-right leader sentenced for neo-Nazi sympathies

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Bratislava, Slovakia – Slovak far-right leader Marian Kotleba has been found guilty of sympathising with neo-Nazism, the Supreme Court ruled earlier this week.

The head of the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia (LSNS), Kotleba was taken to court for presenting in 2017 three families with checks for a value of €1,488, on the anniversary date of the establishment of Slovakia’s wartime and Nazi puppet regime in 1939.

The number 14/88 is a symbol used by neo-Nazis and white supremacists around the world: “14” stands for the so-called 14 Words slogan coined by American neo-Nazi David Lane (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for while children”); “88” refers to “Heil Hitler” (H being the eight letter of the alphabet).

In late 2020, a lower court sentenced him to four years and four months in prison for the illegal use of neo-Nazi symbols, a ruling Kotleba appealed.

But after the appeals court on Tuesday dismissed the previous ruling, the Supreme Court found the controversial far-right leader guilty of supporting a movement “aimed at suppressing fundamental human rights”, giving him a six-month suspended sentence with an 18-month probation period.

The verdict is final and means that Kotleba will lose his seat in Parliament.

His LSNS party, notorious for openly honouring Slovakia’s wartime regime and frequently using Nazi imagery and salutes, first entered Parliament in 2016 and came fourth in the last parliamentary elections held two years ago, gathering 8% of the votes.

Its members are in favour of Slovakia leaving the European Union and NATO.

In 2019, another MP from People’s Party Our Slovakia Milan Mazurek became the first Slovak lawmaker to lose his seat after being convicted for anti-Roma comments.

That same year, the Supreme Court dismissed a request to ban Kotleba’s party, claiming that the prosecutor general did not provide enough evidence to prove LSNS was an extremist party and a threat to democracy.

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