Teenager on mosque charges

By Angela Gregory

A teenager charged with vandalising Auckland mosques was a recent member of the National Front movement in New Zealand but the organisation has denied any involvement.

Ross Baumgarten, 18, appeared on seven charges of intentional damage in the Manukau District Court yesterday.

South African-born Baumgarten, a salesman of Mairangi Bay, was remanded on bail until later this month so he could organise legal representation. A second teenager has name suppression.

A police spokeswoman said the investigation into the mosque vandalism was completed and no further arrests were expected to be made.

National Front national director Sid Wilson confirmed Baumgarten had been a member of the National Front at the time of the vandalism but said the organisation was not involved.

"The National Front had nothing to do with it ... we condemn criminal activity."

Muslim places of worship around Auckland had their windows smashed and were defaced with graffiti reading "R.I.P. London".

Mr Wilson said he was disappointed the National Front's name had been dragged into it.

"It's the last thing we need ... we are desperately trying to improve our image."

He said the National Front had passed on its condolences about the mosque attacks to the leader of the Browns Bay mosque and the president of the Federation of Islamic Associations in New Zealand.

Mr Wilson described his organisation as an "active political nationalist movement" which planned to contest the 2008 national elections as a political party promoting independent national sovereignty for New Zealand.

He said the National Front stood for the preservation of all ethnic groups and cultures and opposed multiculturalism which was "race murder".

It claims more than 500 members.

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