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One of Largest Neo-nazi Trials Under Way in Western Germany

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One of the largest trials against neo-Nazis began last week under tight security measures in a court in Koblenz, a city in western Germany.

Sixteen people were accused of belonging to three unlawful neo-Nazi organizations – Deutsche Alternative, Aktionfront Nationaler Kameraden and Deutschen Nationalisten.

Those charged were between 17 and 65 year old.

Among the defendants is Michael Petri, the chairman of Deutsche Nationalisten, who is one of the key figures in the neo-Nazi scene in Germany.

Deutsche Alternative was declared unlawful Dec. 8, 1992. Four months later, a federal court ruled that the organization was of an anti-Semitic and racist nature and was patterned after the Nazis.

The defendants allegedly recreated the banned organization under new names: Aktionfront and Deutschen Nationalisten.

Police recently broke up violent clashes between neo-Nazis and leftist opponents in the southern town of Passau, which borders Austria. More than 20 people, both neo-Nazis and leftists, were arrested, police said.

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