BERLIN (Reuters) -A German court on Tuesday ordered the removal of election posters reading "Hang The Greens" put up by a far-right party suspected of links to neo-Nazi groups.
The posters were put up around the eastern city of Zwickau by the Third Way, a small party monitored by security services, days before a vote that will set the course of Europe's leading power after the departure of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Greens, third in the polls, are likely to be part of a coalition government after the Sept. 26 vote.
The top regional court in the state of Saxony overruled a lower court that had said the posters could stay up as long as they were not displayed within 100 metres (yards) of Greens posters.
"The party's freedom of expression must take a back seat to the protection of public safety," the regional court said in a statement. It said the posters could be seen as inciting hatred and violence against members of the Greens.
The Third Way had argued that the slogan was ambiguous, especially in the context of an election, as its campaign posters were themselves green in colour, and that there was a free speech justification for keeping them 'hung up'.
Separately, Germany's highest court threw out a petition filed by the Third Way for its Facebook page, which is currently suspended, to be unblocked until after the election.
The Constitutional Court said the party, which fielding candidates in the states of Saxony and Bavaria, had failed to submit adequate arguments.
German concerns about far-right violence were heightened two years ago when conservative politician Walter Luebcke was shot dead https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-crime-idUSKCN1TI1SB by a neo-Nazi for his pro-immigration views.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson and Douglas Busvine; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Kevin Liffey)