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April 20, 2019

Far-right funeral in east Germany draws hundreds of mourners

Far-right funeral in east Germany draws hundreds of mourners
'The silent, mostly male crowd lined the road leading to a cemetery for the funeral of Thomas Haller, the co-founder of a group called "HooNaRa" (Hooligans-Nazis-Racists)' - By: AFP Ronny Hartmann

Hundreds of black-clad mourners turned up at the funeral of a neo-Nazi figure in eastern Germany's Chemnitz, with police out in force to ward off any violence in a city previously rocked by far-right rioting.

There was no overt display of neo-Nazi insignia by the silent, mostly male crowd lining the road leading to a cemetery for the funeral of Thomas Haller, the co-founder of a group called "HooNaRa" (Hooligans-Nazis-Racists).

But security forces were not taking any chances in the city rocked by far-right riots last August over the fatal stabbing of a German man allegedly by two asylum seekers -- an Iraqi and a Syrian.

The funeral was also taking place on a day when a trial opened against the 23-year-old Syrian accused in last year's killing.

Haller had for years provided security for fourth-tier football club Chemnitzer FC.

Earlier this month, fans of the club had paid tribute to him, with the stadium's video screen showing his picture during a minute's silence.

The city of Chemnitz, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the Czech border, has long had an extremist subculture.

In the 1990s the city was an early hideout for the National Socialist Underground, a militant neo-Nazi cell that was only uncovered in 2011 after it had murdered 10 people.

Last August, it made international headlines as neo-Nazis and far-right football hooligans went on the rampage through the city, attacking people of foreign appearance, after the stabbing of a 35-year-old German, Daniel Hillig.

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