US Ku Klux Klan ex-leader ordered to leave Czech Republic

Prague, CzechPrague - Czech police said Saturday they had released David Duke, former leader of US extremist group the Ku Klux Klan, and ordered him to leave the Czech Republic by midnight. On Friday, police charged Duke with the hate crime of supporting and promoting movements suppressing human rights.

Duke had planned to give talks this weekend in the capital as well as in the country's second largest city of Brno. He is visiting the Czech Republic at the invitation of local neo-Nazis to publicize the translation of his 1998 memoir, My Awakening.

Contrary to earlier statements, the state attorney on Saturday decided against asking the court to keep Duke in custody, police spokesman Jan Mikulovsky told the German Press Agency dpa.

While police could have held Duke for 48 hours without court's consent, they decided to release him as he had been already questioned, the spokesman said. Upon release, the Czech Republic's immigration police ordered him to depart the country on Saturday.

Police said they charged Duke for allegedly denying the Holocaust in a translated book he had come to promote.

"In his book he is promoting views that show signs of denying the Holocaust," Mikulovsky told dpa.

Denying that the systematic mass murder of Jews and other minorities by Nazi Germany took place is a hate crime in the Czech Republic punishable by up to three years in prison.

Earlier this week, Prague's Charles University banned a lecture by Duke for a class on extremism. The university said it cancelled it out of a fear that it could have been attended by neo-Nazis.

Political activities of Czech far-right groups have been on a rise in recent months, including provocative marches through Roma ghettos.

Duke, 58, is a white supremacist and a supporter of racial segregation. Aside from being a former chief of the Ku Klux Klan, he had served as a lawmaker in the Louisiana's House of Representative and unsuccessfully ran for US president. (dpa)