AfD politician Björn Höcke must now pay 13,000 euros because he used a banned SA slogan. The court did not believe his protestations of innocence. Höcke can still campaign.

After his conviction for using the symbols of unconstitutional and terrorist organizations, AfD politician Björn Höcke made critical comments about freedom of expression in Germany. He initially left it open whether he wanted to appeal the court decision. “If this verdict stands, freedom of expression in Germany is dead,” wrote Höcke on Tuesday evening in English on Platform X, linking to a media report about the trial against him.

The Halle regional court had previously decided that Höcke had to pay 100 daily rates of 130 euros each. In the trial, the 52-year-old had rejected allegations of knowingly using a banned slogan of the SA (Storm Department) of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP). The verdict is not yet final and an appeal is possible within a week.

Höcke had said – also documented in a video – during a speech in May 2021 in Merseburg, Saxony-Anhalt: “Everything for our homeland, everything for Saxony-Anhalt, everything for Germany”. The third part of the triad is a forbidden Nazi slogan. The politician explained that he did not know the meaning or origin of the words. He formulated his speech and saying spontaneously.

The court was convinced that Höcke knew that the SA slogan was banned and used it anyway, said presiding judge Jan Stengel in the verdict. “You are an eloquent, intelligent man who knows what he is saying.” The guise of freedom of expression was “severely strained” by the defendant. The court was also of the opinion that the decision to use the saying was spontaneous – “along the lines of: Let’s see how far I can go.”

After the verdict was announced, the public prosecutor’s office announced that it would examine legal remedies. If the verdict becomes final, Höcke will be considered to have a criminal record. The Federal Central Register Act regulates which penalties are included in the police clearance certificate. According to paragraph 32, this is not the case for fines of less than 90 daily rates.

The first parliamentary managing director of the SPD parliamentary group, Katja Mast, described Höcke as dangerous after the verdict. “Bjorn

The Green Party politician Sebastian Striegel, who filed the complaint against Höcke, welcomed the verdict. “The verdict shows the alert and effective constitutional state that we need,” he told the news portal “t-online”. He did not want to and will not endure the SA slogans being heard on the streets of my hometown. “And Mr. Höcke will stand trial again for similar acts. Possible overall penalties must then be determined, which can also lead to a prison sentence.”

In their plea, the public prosecutor’s office had called for a suspended prison sentence of six months. In addition, the AfD man should pay 10,000 euros, if possible for charitable institutions. Höcke’s defense lawyers demanded an acquittal.

The Thuringian AfD is classified as right-wing extremist by the state Office for the Protection of the Constitution and observes that Höcke is its state leader. There are no direct consequences for his top candidacy in the state elections in Thuringia on September 1st with the current ruling.

The politician will probably have to return to the dock in Halle because he is said to have used the slogan “Everything for Germany” again during an appearance in Gera last December. According to the indictment, he is said to have spoken the first part “Everything for” himself as a speaker and then used gestures to encourage the audience to shout “Germany”. At this point, the complaint about the speech in Merseburg and the investigation had long been a topic in the media. An indictment against him on charges of incitement to hatred was also admitted at the Mühlhausen regional court in Thuringia. There are currently no dates for either negotiation.