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The BBC's Angus Roxburgh
"They stamped on his head with their army-style boots"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 30 August, 2000, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Trial puts German racists under pressure
Adriano memorial in Dessau
A memorial marks the spot where Alberto Adriano was murdered
By Angus Roxburgh in Dessau

A pink sandstone memorial marks the spot in a city-centre park in the town of Dessau, where Alberto Adriano was killed.


We have to be tough and decisive against those who use violence

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
Mr Adriano was a Mozambican who had lived in Dessau with his German wife and three children for 12 years.

He was walking home one night in June when three men attacked him, outside his block of flats.

They stamped on his head with their army-style boots, stripped him and left him to die.

No remorse

No regrets: One of Alberto Adriano' killers awaits sentencing
No regrets: One of Alberto Adriano' killers awaits sentencing
At their trial, the three have not even denied their horrific crime. Two of them are just 16, the third is 24.

The racists kicked a black man to death just because he was black, causing a wave of revulsion at Germany's neo-Nazi violence.

The incident has jolted the government into action. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is on a tour of the neglected eastern part of Germany, where the far-right is strongest.

He has launched a campaign to root out extremist violence.

Gerhard Schroeder
Schroeder: Making a stand
"We have to be tough and decisive against those who use violence," he said.

"We have to give young people prospects for training and jobs, and we have to have more civilian courage."

So far DM75m ($34m) has been allocated for youth programmes and anti-racist education.

Ban

Most controversially, the government is considering banning the extreme right National Democratic Party (NDP), which openly campaigns for foreigners to be repatriated from Germany.

The ban would be unprecedented in post-war Germany and a sign of just how serious things have become.

In a BBC interview this week NDP chief Udo Voigt said they would react to a ban by "finding new forms of organisation" for their political activities.

Immigrant
Refugees and immigrants are fearful
His party represented, he said, "the silent majority of Germans" - despite the fact that it has had virtually no success in elections.

Mr Voigt said the NPD planned to start a campaign from next Monday to save the party, under the slogan "Arguments instead of Bans".

Meanwhile, neo-Nazi groups are unbowed. Just last weekend they were on the march again in Halle, where the trial of Adriano's killers is taking place.

They were surrounded by riot police and faced a counter-demonstration by left-wing groups.

Minority

The extreme right remains a tiny minority in Germany, but it is strongest - both politically and in terms of violent attacks - in the eastern, formerly communist, regions of Germany.

It is not quite clear why this should be. There are in fact far fewer foreigners there than in the west of the country.

Skinheads
Extreme right wing is strongest in eastern Germany
However, the east's post-communist industrial collapse is often cited as a cause of discontent.

Unemployment is twice as high as in the west. Two of Adriano's alleged killers came from the desolate district of Wolfen-Nord.

The youth club, sporting a worthless Trabant car on the roof, symbolises a society of hopelessness and disorientation.

There is immense public pressure for Alberto Adriano's killers to be given the stiffest possible sentences.

The government too would surely welcome that as an added deterrent in its campaign to crack down on Germany's neo-Nazis.

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See also:

23 Aug 00 | Europe
German racists deny murder intent
23 Aug 00 | Europe
Germany's east-west gulf
18 Aug 00 | Europe
German neo-Nazis suspend demos
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