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German Politician Held After Nazi Slogan Complaint

A German far-right politician has been arrested for allegedly displaying Nazi symbols, after “Sieg Heil” was heard coming from the headquarters of a fraternity to which he belongs.

Daniel Halemba was later released when a judge ruled he was not a flight risk.

He was elected to the Bavarian parliament earlier this month.

He was detained hours before he was due to gain immunity as an Alternative for Germany (AfD) MP when the parliament was sworn in on Monday afternoon.

The 22-year-old politician is one of 32 AfD members elected in the party’s best-ever election result in Bavaria, where it is now the largest opposition party in the state.

Police issued an arrest warrant for him on Friday and he was tracked down near Stuttgart, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, on Monday morning.

One of the new legislature’s first acts on Monday was to lift Mr Halemba’s immunity. He has said he intends to participate in parliamentary proceedings.

Police in Würzburg last month raided the premises of the Teutonia Prag student fraternity after neighbours complained of hearing shouts of “Sieg Heil” from inside. The phrase was a key Nazi slogan and is banned in Germany.

Officers said they had confiscated banned material and that the raid “confirmed the allegations [made by neighbours]”.

Mr Halemba is under investigation on suspicion of sedition and possessing banned symbols. Nazi iconography is also outlawed in Germany.

Prosecutors told the BBC he was accused of collusion or suppression of evidence, as he was trying to influence other members of the fraternity to change their statements.

“They want to arrest me… using a totally lawless arrest warrant,” Mr Halemba said in a video posted to social media before his arrest.

His lawyer, Dubravko Mandic, said the allegations against his client had “no truth”.

Katrin Ebner-Steiner, the leader of the AfD in the Bavarian parliament, denounced what she termed a “politically motivated” prosecution.

The AfD has enjoyed record election results in recent months.

The anti-immigration party came third in this month’s Bavarian election and second in the state of Hesse.

The party now regularly polls second nationwide. Germany’s next federal election is due in 2025.

Source : BBC