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Co-Founder of Germany's Anti-Immigration PEGIDA on Trial

Lutz Bachmann, center, co-founder of Germany's PEGIDA movement, is flanked by his lawyer Katja Reichel as he waits for the opening of his trial in the courtroom of the local court during the beginning of the trial on accusations of incitement in Dresden, eastern Germany, Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

The co-founder of Germany’s anti-immigration PEGIDA movement went on trial Tuesday on hate speech charges for using derogatory language about refugees on social media.

Lutz Bachmann’s comments were made in a September 2014 Facebook posting, in which he called migrants and refugees "cattle", "garbage" and "scumbags".

Dresden state prosecutors have charged Bachmann with incitement, saying his insulting language constituted an "attack on the dignity" of refugees, intended to deny them “an equal life” in Germany.

Bachmann has denied the charges, saying the trial is “purely politically motivated” to discredit him and the group.

If found guilty, the 43-year-old Bachmann faces three months to five years in prison.

Bachmann expressed regret shortly after his posting and apologized for harming PEGIDA.

A group of supporters gathered outside the court Tuesday, some holding German flags and placards.

One of them read “We want a Germany out of the euro, out of the European Union, out of NATO and with true democracy" and another calling for Chancellor Angela Merkel to resign.

PEGIDA has strongly criticized Merkel’s open door policy on refugees.

PEGIDA ( a German acronym for Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West) entered into the German political scene last year with anti-immigrant rallies that started in the eastern city of Dresden, the capital of Saxony, and spread to several other cities.

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