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German Court Rejects Government Bid to Punish Neo-Nazis

Karlsruhe, July 30 (RFE/RL) -- Germany's highest court has rejected a government request to strip two convicted neo-Nazis of their constitutional right to participate in politics and stand for election.

The Federal Constitutional Court said today it ruled that Thomas Dienel and Heinz Reiss could not be deprived of these rights because the court that originally convicted them of inciting racial hatred had given them only suspended prison sentences.

The judges argued that this meant that Dienel and Reiss did not constitute the direct threat to Germany's democratic order that Bonn claimed.

Dienel once led a neo-Nazi group in eastern Germany, while Reiss was a leading figure in a west German neo-Nazi group.