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Neo-Nazis sentenced for racial discrimination

A district court in Brig has found 18 extreme-rightwing members guilty of racial discrimination for organising a neo-Nazi concert in a small Alpine village.

About 400 neo-Nazis from Switzerland, France, Italy and Germany gathered in September 2005 in Gamsen, a village northeast of Zermatt, for a memorial concert dedicated to the late Ian Stuart, a British punk singer who championed white-power concerts.

During the gathering at the Crazy Palace disco in Gamsen several calls were made for "Hitler" salutes and band lyrics included anti-Semitic phrases.

In a court ruling made public on Wednesday, 14 men and four women were found to have played key roles in organising the concert that encouraged racial discrimination. Most were from canton Valais and were aged 20-30.

One organiser received a fine of SFr9,000 ($7,700). Others received suspended fines of up to SFr14,000 and suspended jail sentences, the most severe being for 13 months.

A recent report estimates there are about 1,200 active rightwing extremists in Switzerland, a 30 per cent increase since 2000 and a 336 per cent leap since 1997.

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