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Neo-nazis on Trial Recant Confession They Torched Sachsenhausen Museum

Two German neo-Nazis accused of setting fire to the Jewish museum in the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp last September have gone on trial and recanted a confession given to police.

The two men, Ingo Kehn, 19, and Thomas Haberland, 22, said police forced them to admit their guilt and now claim they had nothing to do with the attack.

The two went on trial Tuesday in Potsdam in eastern Germany. The arson caused an uproar at the time because it was the first attack directed against a Jewish institution in the recent wave of neo-Nazi violence.

About 20 neo-Nazis took part in the attack, throwing Molotov cocktails against the wooden barracks, which was burned to the ground. Another adjacent barracks was only partially damaged.

Police are still looking for the others.

Meanwhile, a regional court in Schwerin in northern Germany handed down sentences to 10 rightists convicted of attacking a refuge for asylum-seekers at Bahlen an der Elbe that were well below the district attorney’s request.

The highest penalty was three years in prison for Rudiged Klasen, the man who organized the attack. The others, ranging in age from 15 to 21, were sentenced to a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

On July 31, 1992, the group attacked the building with clubs, firebombs, slingshots and other weapons. Police quickly arrived at the scene and managed to prevent any injuries.

In related news, the internal security service in the state of Brandenberg issued a report stating that neo-Nazi groups have increasingly been forced to resort to acting undercover and using conspiratorial methods.

The report cited instances of neo-Nazi groups publicizing rallies and protests by using innocent-sounding catchwords and phrases understood by their followers.

(Contributing to this report was JTA correspondent David Kantor in Bonn.)

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