National Alliance Member Sentenced in Bomb Blast

A 41-year-old Austrian was convicted on explosives charges in December, more than three years after a bomb he was building in his home in northern Italy exploded in his hands, tearing off five fingers and burning his face and chest.

Stephan Topitz, who authorities said carried a membership card issued by the U.S.-based, neo-Nazi National Alliance, was sentenced to 21 months in prison. But he was immediately freed on parole after being credited for the seven months he spent in jail while awaiting trial in Innsbruck, Austria.

Police went to Topitz's home in South Tyrol, an autonomous region in Italy with a large German-speaking population, after neighbors reported hearing a blast there in August 2002. Topitz, who had been under surveillance since volatile chemicals were found in his car the previous year, was building the bomb with his wife and children in an adjoining room, officials said.

Police found five other bombs, downloaded neo-Nazi materials, and Third Reich memorabilia in Topitz's home in the town of Lana. They also found E-mails he had written, including one that warned, "This time we've got to take action against this rabble so that no one will be left -- not even the nice Jewish pensioner that lives next door or the sweet Jewish child in the cradle."