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German prosecutors charge far-right party leader with incitement over World Cup pamphlets
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    BERLIN — Prosecutors accused the head of Germany’s top far-right party Tuesday of publishing a pamphlet before the 2006 World Cup that questioned whether nonwhite players should be on the national soccer team.
    Prosecutor Simone Herbeth said in a statement that Udo Voigt, head of the National Democratic Party, or NPD, was charged with incitement and defamation over the pamphlets. NPD spokesman Klaus Beier and Frank Schwerdt, a leading member, have also been charged, Herbeth said.
    The flyers showed the traditional white German jersey with the No. 25 — worn at the time by black defender Patrick Owomoyela. They read: ‘‘White, not just a jersey color! For a real NATIONAL team!’’
    Herbeth said the picture ‘‘called into question whether this player, as well as other nonwhite skinned players, were worthy of representing Germany as national players.’’
    Prosecutors charge the party later printed another series of pamphlets showing 10 white and one black player in German national jerseys under the question ‘‘German National Team 2010?’’
    Owomoyela, who has a German mother and a Nigerian father, plays for Werder Bremen but is no longer a member of the German national squad.
    The NPD called the charges ‘‘absurd’’ and ‘‘political’’ in a statement released on its Web site.
    ‘‘The German justice authorities are ever more zealous when it comes to pursuing and persecuting the national opposition,’’ the statement read.
    Beier insisted that the use of Owomoyela’s No. 25 was ‘‘pure chance.’’ The quality of the printing was unclear, and the number could be read as a 26 or even a 23, he said.
    ‘‘Everyone can see their own favorite number in it,’’ Beier said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
    Backed by the German soccer federation, Owomoyela filed a lawsuit against the NPD in 2006 over the original pamphlets, some 70,000 of which were confiscated by authorities during a search at the party’s national headquarters.