Far-right judge set to be forced out in Germany

Jens Maier had hoped to return to judicial duties after losing his seat as an MP

Jens Maier was an MP for the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party for four years. Getty
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A judge with far-right views who was declared an extremist by intelligence services is set to be forced into retirement in Germany.

Jens Maier had left the judiciary to become an MP for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in 2017.

He hoped to return to the bench after losing his seat at last year’s general election, when the AfD dropped from third place to fifth.

But Katja Meier, the justice minister of the state of Saxony, said she had filed a counter-application to have Mr Maier pushed into retirement.

“Every citizen has to be able to trust that the basic principles of the rule of law are guaranteed in our judicial system,” she said. “Anyone who is classified as a right-wing extremist by state authorities cannot be a credible representative of the judiciary.”

Before entering parliament, Mr Maier was reprimanded for his political activism at a time when he was dealing with legal cases involving the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party.

In a speech in 2017, he condemned Germany’s culture of remembrance for its Nazi crimes as “propaganda and re-education”, picking up one of the party's most contentious themes.

The AfD has attracted scrutiny from intelligence services in Germany. AFP

On that occasion, he was warming up a crowd in Dresden for a speech by Bjoern Hoecke, the leader of the AfD’s hard-line wing, and later described himself as a “little Hoecke”.

Later that year, Mr Maier was accused of expressing sympathy for the motives of far-right Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in an extremist massacre in 2011, although he claimed he was misquoted.

His designation as an extremist was part of widespread surveillance of the AfD by security services tasked with protecting Germany’s constitution.

At last year’s election, Mr Maier fell 4,100 votes short of winning a Dresden constituency. The AfD won so many districts in Saxony that it was not eligible for any top-up seats, the route he had used to enter parliament in 2017.

State authorities said they would seek approval for Mr Maier’s retirement by March 14, the date he was due to return to the bench, so that he does not act as a judge for an interim period.

Mr Maier had been a judge for almost 20 years before becoming an MP, having previously been a prosecutor and university lecturer.

Updated: February 14, 2022, 9:25 AM
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