Slovak far-right leader guilty of neo-Nazi sympathy, but jailing overturned

An appeals court in Slovakia has dismissed a lower court ruling that convicted the leader of a far-right party for the illegal use of neo-Nazi symbols.

But the country’s Supreme Court still finds Marian Kotleba guilty of sympathizing with neo-Nazism and gives him a six-month suspended sentence.

Kotleba will lose his parliament seat with the ruling.

In this file photo taken on March 11, 2016, the leader of the right nationalist LS-Nase Slovensko (Our Slovakia) party Marian Kotleba speaks with journalists before party delegates were intoduced to the parliament in Bratislava. (AFP/Vladimir Simicek)

Kotleba, head of the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia, stood trial after he presented three families with checks for 1,488 euros ($1,633) on March 14, 2017, on the anniversary of the Slovak wartime state’s establishment in 1939.

The number 1,488 has a symbolic meaning for neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Kotleba appealed an October 2020 ruling by the Specialized Criminal Court in Pezinok, which sentenced him to four years and four months in prison.

The ruling by the country’s Supreme Court is final.

The People’s Party Our Slovakia, whose members use Nazi salutes and want Slovakia out of the European Union and NATO, was the fourth-most popular party in the country in the 2020 parliamentary election with 8% support.

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