"My perception was that the demo in Kärrtrop was against the Swedish Resistance Movement," the 24-year-old said about the neighbourhood protest against a recent flurry of Nazi graffiti in the southern Stockholm neighborhood.
"So I thought it was obvious that we'd go," the man told the Södertörn District Court.
Seven men, some minors, are standing trial for their suspected roles in a violent altercation in the Kärrtorp neighbourhood in mid-December. Three are described as key figures in the Swedish Resistance Movement (Svenska motståndsrörelsen).
"I didn't use violence against anyone, the only thing I did was to hold a camera," said the man, one of three suspects identified as leaders of the group.
He said several people dressed in black had instead attacked them. The demo then descended into mayhem, with the understaffed Swedish police and several local residents herding the neo-Nazis out of the suburb and into a nearby forest.
Prosecutors have brought charges of violent rioting (våldsamt upplopp) and hate speech (hets mot folkgrupp) against four suspects. Another three were charged with instigating violent rioting. The indictment stated that several of those charged threw bottles, rocks, and firecrackers at the peaceful demonstrators, several of whom attended the rally with their children.
"I'd also like to underscore that I am not some kind of group leader, which the prosecutor claims," he added.
The prosecutor retorted by asking him about an alleged SMS sent to SMR members on December 15th, 2013, and further text messages sent allegedly to assemble the group.
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The TT news agency reported that while the older suspects have remained tight-lipped about what happened in Kärrtorp, a 17-year-old suspect told the police he was shocked at how violent the altercation became. A 16-year-old said he received orders from two of the older suspects to take bottles out of a car.
"I wanted to turn back," he told police during interrogations. "I suppose I realized when they got the bottles out that this wasn't what I'd signed up for."