German police raid largest neo-Nazi group

Associated Press/September 7, 2010

Berlin - Police on Tuesday raided buildings used by Germany's largest neo-Nazi group in an effort to find evidence to support banning it, the Interior Ministry said.

The sweep targeted 30 buildings and houses across the country belonging to members of the Aid Organization for National Political Victims and their Relatives, the ministry said in a statement. It declined to say how many officers were taking part in the raids in nine of the country's 16 states.

The group, known as HNG by its German acronym, is believed to have some 600 members, making it the country's largest neo-Nazi group, the ministry said.

Evidence found in the raids will show whether the HNG's work violates Germany's constitution in an "aggressive and combative" manner that could lead to a ban, Deputy Interior Minister Klaus-Dieter Fritsche said. Investigators suspect the HNG is trying to strengthen Germany's scattered far-right groups by forging alliances among the organizations, he said.

The ministry accused HNG members of keeping in contact with imprisoned neo-Nazis to strengthen the members' ideology and "encourage them to commit further crimes."

German authorities are wary of neo-Nazi groups and several of them have been banned over the past years. Denying the Holocaust and displaying Nazi symbols or otherwise glorifying them are crimes in Germany.

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