German police arrest MP amid ‘Nazi symbols’ probe
German police have arrested Daniel Halemba, a newly elected Bavarian lawmaker with the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. The politician was caught in the Stuttgart area early Monday, prosecutors said.
The 22-year-old MP, the youngest politician ever elected to the Bavarian parliament, is suspected of incitement and use of banned symbols of “unconstitutional organizations,” namely, the Nazi swastika. The investigation into Halemba is linked to the Teutonia Prague student fraternity, which was raided by the authorities in Wurzburg, Bavaria last month.
The group is suspected of using Nazi-associated memorabilia and symbols, while neighbors repeatedly complained that fraternity members were shouting “Sieg Heil” during their assemblies. During the raid, forbidden symbols were recovered from the fraternity’s compound, according to the authorities.
Apart from Halemba, who has openly admitted to being a member of the fraternity and was at the compound during the raid, German law enforcement has identified four other suspects. All of them are accused of incitement and possession of Nazi memorabilia.
The MP, however, has denied the allegations, telling the Suddeutsche Zeitung after the raid that no “incriminating material” had been found. Katrin Ebner-Steiner, the AfD’s parliamentary leader in Bavaria, condemned the MP’s arrest, calling it “an indictment” of democracy.
Halemba’s lawyer, Dubravko Mandic, dismissed the allegations as well, saying there is “no truth” to them, while signaling that the arrest of his client will be challenged. “He is an elected member of parliament and, in my opinion, he has a claim against the government and the ministry of justice that they no longer execute the arrest warrant,” Mandic told the German Press Agency.
Halemba’s arrest comes as he was set to begin his tenure in the Bavarian parliament. The politician is among 32 MPs elected in the Bavarian state elections earlier this month from the AfD, making it the largest opposition party in the state.