A Hamburg court found him guilty of supporting the Russian offensive in Ukraine and ordered him to pay €4,000
Displaying the last letter of the Latin alphabet on the rear window of his car could cost a German €4,000 ($3,988). A Hamburg court found the 62-year-old guilty of supporting the Russian military operation in Ukraine, ruling that “Z” is a symbol of support for Moscow’s actions.
The verdict was delivered on Tuesday, a court spokesperson told German media.
According to the prosecution, the accused had attached a white sheet of paper with a blue “Z” to his vehicle and, on March 29, drove down one of Hamburg’s central streets.
“This is, in the opinion of the court, an endorsement of the Ukrainian war in solidarity with Russia, which is a war of aggression according to international law,“, judged the court.
Although the man did not deny displaying the symbol, he argued in court that it represented only the last letter of the alphabet. The defendant added that attempting to link the letter to the conflict in Ukraine was a “very, very bold assumption.”
He also offered other possible interpretations, including the Franco-Algerian film ‘Z’, as well as a now-defunct bar in Hamburg that bore the same name.
The defense team claimed the letter referred to news articles about “Gen Z”.
The accused has the right to appeal the verdict.
The man was first fined €1,800. He appealed and was granted a public hearing. Having failed to prove his innocence, he has now found himself with an even heavier fine.
The ‘Z’ symbol was first spotted on Russian military hardware shortly after the Kremlin launched its military operation in the neighboring country. He quickly gained traction among Russians supporting the campaign. In recent months, the letter has been incorporated into banners and billboards by regional officials.
In Germany, as well as several other European countries, the use of the symbol in contexts where it is seen as supporting Moscow’s actions has been banned.