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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 March 2008, 18:20 GMT
German far-right leader charged
Udo Voigt, leader of the far-right NPD, 2007
The NPD calls the charges politically motivated
German prosecutors have charged the leader of the far-right NPD with inciting racial hatred.

Udo Voigt's party is alleged to have questioned the presence of non-white players in Germany's national squad ahead of the 2006 World Cup.

Two of his party associates have also been charged.

The NPD distributed pamphlets suggesting player Patrick Owomoyela, whose father is Nigerian, should not be in the squad, say prosecutors.

The leaflets depicted a white team shirt with the caption: "White. Not just a jersey colour. For a real national team!"

'Pure chance'

Prosecutor Simone Herbeth issued a statement saying the pamphlets showed the Number 25 shirt, worn at the time by Mr Owomoyela.

This, she said, "called into question whether this player, as well as other non-white skinned players, were worthy of representing Germany as national players".

Footballer Patrick Owomoyela, former German national team player, January 2006.
Prosecutors say the shirt depicted was worn by Owomoyela

Mr Voigt, along with NPD spokesman Klaus Beier and senior party member Frank Schwerdt, are also charged with defamation.

The NPD - or National Democratic Party - rejected the charges as politically motivated.

"The German justice authorities are ever more zealous when it comes to pursuing and persecuting the national opposition," it said in a statement.

Associated Press quoted Mr Beier as saying the use of Number 25 was pure chance and the quality of the printing was unclear meaning it could be another number.

This is the latest of a series of legal cases involving the NPD, which has seats in two regional parliaments in eastern Germany.

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