Austrian neo-Nazi gets nine years in jail

(JTA) — An Austrian court has sentenced a neo-Nazi activist to nine years in prison for glorifying his racist ideology online.

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

Gottfried Kuessel, 54, had denied any wrongdoing and told the court he had turned over a new leaf since serving a previous jail term for neo-Nazi activity, which is banned in Austria, Reuters reported.

But heeding prosecutors’ description of Kuessel as a prime leader of the extreme right, the jury voted last week to convict him. Two other defendants got sentences of seven and four-and-a-half years.

“I had expected an acquittal because of the very thin evidence. There was only circumstantial evidence, not more,” he said in remarks broadcast by Austria’s ORF radio.

The president of the Jewish Community of Vienna, Oskar Deutsch, warned last month that anti-Semitic incidents have doubled in Austria in 2012 compared to 2011.

A rabbi said in September that neo-Nazi soccer fans had verbally abused him while police looked on, and a far-right politician drew criticism from the country’s president for posting a cartoon on his website that was widely seen as anti-Semitic.

Help us tell the Jewish story with reporting from around the world. Please donate to JTA.

Click to write a letter to the editor.