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German state prosecutors have filed perjury charges against a former leader of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party.
Frauke Petry is accused of giving false testimony about campaign finances in 2014 regional elections, the public prosecutor’s office in Dresden said on Wednesday, according to the Financial Times.
Petry, who served as AfD’s chairwoman from July 2015 to August 2017, is accused of misleading Saxony’s state electoral committee last year over loans to AfD candidates for their election campaigns.
She and a fellow AfD member Carsten Hütter also allegedly gave contradictory testimony regarding AfD’s candidate list in the 2014 election, Deutsche Welle reported. AfD allegedly took one candidate off its list of regional election representatives because he refused to loan money to the party, the German newspaper said.
- Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
Petry has denied the prosecutors’ accusations, The Local and German news agency DPA reported.
The punishment for perjury in Germany is at least one year in prison, or six months for minor cases, according to Deutsche Welle. Saxon officials unanimously voted to lift Petry’s immunity this August – a move welcomed by Petry at the time as she said it would give her a chance to defend herself in court, according to the Associated Press.
Petry surprised her AfD colleagues by quitting the party the morning after it won an unprecedented 12.6% of the national vote in Germany’s October 1 general election – the first time a far-right party won seats in the German parliament since the end of World War II.
She has declared she would sit as an independent MP for her Saxony constituency. She has also revealed her intention to form a new party in time for regional elections in 2019, but has not given any further details, according to Politico.