Far-right German politician avoids jail over concentration camp tattoo

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A German politician whose tattoo of a death camp with a Nazi slogan was spotted by fellow bathers at a swimming pool he had been using, has been handed a suspended six-month sentence for inciting racial hatred.

Marcel Zech is a member of the far-right National Democratic Party and a town council member in an area just north of Berlin.

The 27-year-old defendant was brought before court for showing a back tattoo of what turned out to be the Auschwitz death camp accompanied by the slogan at the entrance of the Buchenwald concentration camp that reads “Jedem das Seine” – “to each his own.”

He has refrained from commenting on the verdict so far.

The man had been in a public swimming pool in the town of Oranienburg, near Berlin, when another visitor took a photo of his tattoo and posted it on Facebook. The photo was later passed on to authorities.

Under German law, the public display of Nazi symbols is prohibited. The maximum sentence Zech could have received is five years but prosecutors initially asked for unsuspended ten-month sentence.

Prosecutor Wilfried Lehmann called the sentence too lenient.

"We requested 10 months in prison and the court sentenced him to a six-month suspended sentence," Lehmann said after the hearing. "Hence we are considering an appeal."

This is not the first time Zech, who works as a window cleaner, faces trial. In 2014 he paid €360 ($394) for posing as a police officer, trying to check identities of those who took part in anti-fascist protests. In 2013 he was charged with an assault and fined €1,200 ($1,314).

Apart from back ink, Zech also has a tattoo of the Imperial Eagle on his stomach and a black sun on his left arm, which are both typical Nazi-era symbols.

Oranienburg once hosted the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.