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 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 18:42 GMT
Neo-Nazi blames US for 11 September
Horst Mahler
Mahler: Peoples have right to self-defence
A German far-right leader on trial for praising the 11 September attacks continued to lash out at the US in his first court appearance on Monday.

Horst Mahler, a leading ideologue of the extreme-right National Democratic Party, is accused of condoning an illegal act.

Nine days after the attacks in September 2001 he said in an interview on the ARD television network they were "cruel" but "justified" and said the perpetrators had his full sympathy.

In court in Hamburg he said Arabs had a right to retribution against the United States, which he described as "the bloodiest and most imperialist power the world has ever seen".

'Self-defence'

"Peoples that are fighting for their life have the right to self-defence," he said.

I say it was an action that, as cruel as it was, was justified

Horst Mahler in September 2001
He denied that he made the comments in the form that they were broadcast.

Judge Gudrun Stoehr adjourned the trial after Mr Mahler had spoken, saying she wanted to hear testimony from the television reporters.

Mr Mahler, a 66-year-old lawyer, was once a member of the leftist Red Army Faction terrorist group, but later shifted to the opposite end of the political spectrum.

Mr Mahler told the court that the 11 September attacks were part of a US conspiracy to prepare a "war mood" in the country.

"It's not true that al-Qaeda had anything to do with it," he said.

Shouting

Mr Mahler accused Jews of seeking "world domination" and shouted at a prosecutor when she tried to intervene.

The BBC's Katya Adler in Berlin says the trial of Mr Mahler is seen in Germany as a warning by the authorities to the country's neo-Nazis.

The government is trying to ban the NPD because of its concern over a string of violent attacks blamed on neo-Nazi groups and their skinhead followers.

The Mahler case runs concurrently to that in another Hamburg court, where a Moroccan student, Mounir al-Motassadek, stands accused of helping the 11 September hijackers.

His trial, which started late last year, is the first in Europe directly connected with the attacks.

Mr Mahler's links to the Red Army Faction earned him a 10-year jail sentence for armed robbery in 1974.

See also:

08 Oct 02 | Europe
23 Jan 02 | Europe
03 Sep 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
30 Apr 01 | Europe
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