German far-right regional leader Hoecke fined for using banned Nazi slogan

HALLE, Germany (Reuters) -A leading member of Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party was fined on Tuesday by a court for using a banned Nazi paramilitary slogan, a court spokesperson said.

The court in the eastern city of Halle fined Bjoern Hoecke 13,000 euros ($14,062) after finding him guilty.

Hoecke, head of the AfD in the state of Thuringia, is part of the nationalist wing of the AfD, officially designated by the domestic intelligence agency as "right-wing extremist".

In May 2021, Hoecke ended a campaign speech in the eastern town of Merseburg with the words "Everything for Germany!". This phrase is banned as it was used by Nazi SA stormtroopers.

In Germany, the use of slogans and symbols linked to anti-constitutional groups, including the Nazi party, is illegal.

His lawyers argued he did not know the words were banned and Hoecke himself, a history teacher, said in a television debate he was unaware of the phrase's origin.

Hoecke could have faced a prison sentence of up to three years and been barred from public office.

($1 = 0.9245 euros)

(Reporting by Freerk Heinz and Oliver Ellrodt in Halle and Thomas Escritt in Berlin; additional reporting by Tom Sims; editing by Tomasz Janowski and Cynthia Osterman)