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"Heil Hofer!" image punished in court verdict

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Photo: Paul Gillingwater
22:06 CEST+02:00
The far-right candidate in Austria's upcoming presidential election won 1,000 euros ($1,120) in damages Friday from a man who posted a fake image of him with a Hitler moustache on social media.

A post on Facebook had said that Norbert Hofer "wishes all those mentally disturbed compatriots who vote for him good morning. Heil Hofer!"

The 42-year-old man, who was not named, was also fined 320 euros by a court in Innsbruck, western Austria, for defamation, local media reported.

The defendant had removed the posting several days afterwards and apologised to Hofer's Freedom Party (FPOe) but not to Hofer himself, who launched a civil action against him.

The anti-immigration FPOe is one of several parties to have gained in support in Europe in the past year on the back of the continent's worst migration crisis since 1945.

The party strenuously denies being racist and having links to neo-Nazis and this is not the first time that Hofer, 45, has launched legal proceedings for being called a Nazi.

In May Hofer narrowly failed to be elected president in a runoff election after being beaten by independent ecologist Alexander Van der Bellen, 72, by just 31,000 votes.

The FPOe managed to have the election annulled in July however because of procedural irregularities.

Initially scheduled for October 2, the re-run of the vote was postponed in September to December 2 because of glue on postal votes failing to stick properly.

Hofer and Van der Bellen are running neck-and-neck in opinion polls.

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