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West Germans May Now Prosecute ‘skinheads’ Convicted in East Berlin

Seven neo-Nazi youths serving prison terms in East Berlin for assault and vandalism may face trial in West Berlin.

A spokesman for the West Berlin authorities, Cornel Christoffel, said Wednesday that an investigation has begun, based on evidence supplied by the East Berlin authorities.

The seven, members of a “skinheads” group, broke into the Zion Church, a Protestant denomination in East Berlin, last Oct. 17, shouting anti-Semitic epithets.

They severely injured several congregants and damaged the church, apparently because of its close friendly relations with East Berlin’s tiny Jewish community.

Their subsequent trial was the first public admission by the East Berlin authorities that neo-Nazis are active in the Communist Democratic Republic of Germany.

But they maintained that the youths were influenced by “subversive elements” in West Germany.

The neo-Nazis were sentenced on Dec. 7 to one to two years in prison. The prosecutor in sisted the sentences were too light and on Dec. 24, a district court judge increased them from 14 to 18 months, in two cases, and from two to four years, in two others.

The “skinheads, ” youthful roughnecks who wear Nazi-like uniforms, are a phenomenon that has surfaced recently in Western countries, including the United States. Most of the groups are anti-Semitic.

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