A couple appeared before a court to answer to charges of incitement because the man had established a Facebook group that was “hostile to refugees”.
Peter M. founded a secret group called AFB (Anti Refugee Movement) about a year ago on Facebook. As a secret group, people who are not members of it would have been unable to see its content. He and his wife Melanie were administrators of the Facebook group, so both had to attend the court on charges of sedition.
The offending Facebook page’s founding statement was read out in the courtroom. Written by Peter M. it read: “The war and economic refugees are flooding our country. They bring terror, fear, sorrow. They rape our women and put our children at risk. Bring an end to it!”.
Judge Lukas Neubeck, presiding over the case, said the fact the group had a picture of a German flag on its Facebook page confirmed for him that AFB is a right wing group.
In the two months following its creation, 900 members had joined the group. Merkur disclosed that soon after, others had stumbled upon the group and reported it to Facebook administrators.
Facebook examined activity posted within the group and could find no problems with it. Unhappy with the fact that Facebook would take no further action, anonymous users turned to a police station in Lübeck. There, officers traced the internet activity to a computer in Vierkirchen in the Dachau district of Bavaria.
Raiding the couple’s flat, their computing items and digital storage were seized by the criminal investigation department in Furstenfeldbruck.
In court, Peter M. and Melanie’s 10-month-old son sat on his mother’s lap and the pair had no one legally defending them. The barrister had resigned before the trial.
Within the Dachau courtroom Peter M. said:
“You cannot even express a little bit of criticism about refugees without getting called a Nazi.
“I just wanted to create a discussion forum where people can speak their minds about the refugees.”
Peter M. added that he had repeatedly checked members of the group and, if any had made radical posts, Peter M. had ensured they were deleted.
Scolding the pair, Judge Neubeck said: “The description of the group is a series of generalisations with a clear right-wing background.”
The Judge sentenced Peter M. to serve a nine month suspended prison sentence, on probation. Melanie was ordered to pay a fine of €1,200.
“I hope you are clear on the seriousness of the situation. If you sit again in front of me on the dock, you will go to jail,” Judge Neubeck warned.
The trial came amid a nationwide crackdown on “verbal radicalisation” by the German Federal Police (BKA). This week police launched a nationwide raid on the homes of people suspected of posting xenophobic and anti-mass migration posts on the internet.
Explaining why “hate” posts are a priority for the police, BKA President Holger Münch said attacks on migrant shelters were the result of “radicalisation” on social media.