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Slovakian far-right leader loses mandate as MP over neo-Nazi symbols, court decides

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Marian Kotleba stands outside the Supreme Court in Bratislava in April 2019.
Marian Kotleba stands outside the Supreme Court in Bratislava in April 2019.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File

The leader of Slovakia's far-right political party has been given a six-month suspended sentence for neo-Nazi sympathies.

Marian Kotleba was found guilty by Slovakia's Supreme Court of supporting a movement "aimed at suppressing fundamental human rights".

But judges dismissed a lower court ruling that convicted the MP of illegally using neo-Nazi symbols.

Kotleba stood trial after he presented three families with checks for €1,488 euros in March 2017 on the anniversary of the Slovak wartime state’s establishment in 1939.

The number 1,488 has a symbolic meaning for neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Kotleba -- the head of the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia (LSNS) -- was convicted and originally sentenced to four years and four months in prison.

But on appeal, the Supreme Court reduced his sentence while upholding his conviction for neo-Nazi sympathies. The ruling means he will lose his seat in Slovakia's parliament.

LSNS -- whose Eurosceptic members use Nazi salutes -- was the fourth-most popular party in the country in the 2020 parliamentary election with 8% support.

Kotleba and his party’s members openly back Slovakia's legacy during World War II, when it served as a Nazi puppet state.

Another member of the party, Milan Mazurek, became the first Slovak lawmaker to lose his parliament seat in 2019 after he was convicted for the use of racist language against the Roma community.

In 2019, the Supreme Court dismissed a request by the country’s prosecutor general to ban Kotleba’s party as an "extremist group".

The court ruled at the time that the prosecutor general failed to provide enough evidence that the party violated the Slovak constitution and aimed to destroy the country's democracy.