Top German court to consider far-right ban bid in March


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BERLIN (AP) — Germany's highest court on Monday scheduled hearings in March to consider a new bid to ban the country's biggest far-right party.

Parliament's upper house, which represents the country's 16 state governments, submitted an application two years ago to the Federal Constitutional Court to ban the National Democratic Party.

The states allege that it promotes a racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic agenda in violation of the constitution.

In 2003, the Constitutional Court rejected a first attempt to ban the party because paid government informants within the group were partially responsible for the evidence against it. Officials say there's no evidence from informants in this bid.

The court announced Monday that it will hold three days of hearings on March 1-3. Rulings are typically announced at a later date.

"Clearly our arguments carry weight, otherwise the Federal Constitutional Court wouldn't have scheduled a hearing," said Bavaria's interior minister, Joachim Herrmann.

Germany's Central Council of Jews said it was glad that the court is "finally" moving to hearings in the case.

A ban on the party "would be a very important step in the fight against right-wing extremism and a significant contribution to the stability of our democracy," said its president, Josef Schuster, pointing to the party's recent anti-migrant rhetoric.

The National Democratic Party isn't represented in Germany's national parliament though it does have a single seat in the European Parliament and lawmakers in one eastern German state legislature.

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This story has been corrected to show that the application for a ban was filed two years ago, not one year ago.

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