Germany's right-wing terrorism case starts over attack plot

Published 01.10.2019 00:10

The trial of a neo-Nazi terrorist cell accused of plotting a violent political uprising and planning terrorist attacks in Germany opened yesterday amid reports the country's far-right scene is growing more armed and more radical.

Eight men aged 21 to 32 are charged with forming a right-wing terrorist organization, with five of them facing additional charges of serious disturbance of peace. One of them is charged with causing serious bodily harm. Federal prosecutors accuse the men of forming the organization through a chat group in September 2018, giving it the name "Revolution Chemnitz."

According to local media reports, members of the group had planned to orchestrate a civil war-like rebellion in Berlin on Oct. 3, 2018, Germany's National Unity Day. They are accused of planning to overthrow democratic institutions using weapons, accepting the possibility that people might be killed. The eastern German city of Chemnitz near the Czech border was the scene of violent right-wing protests in August and September last year following a stabbing at a city festival.

Proceedings in a high-profile trial of members of an alleged right-wing German terrorist cell are to be held in public, the court sitting in Dresden ruled yesterday. The court rejected an application from one of the accused's lawyers for it to be held behind closed doors on the grounds that his client had been a legal minor at the time of the alleged offenses. The case has been described by Federal Public Prosecutor General Peter Frank as "one of the most significant proceedings in the area of right-wing terrorism." Security agencies hope the trial, which is set to last until at least April 2020 and hear around 75 witnesses, will reveal what exactly was being plotted and the scope of the network.

The assassination-style murder of a pro-migrant German politician by a far-right extremist has raised fears of growing neo-Nazi terrorism in the country. A German far-right sympathizer confessed to the crime, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said yesterday.

Federal Prosecutor General Peter Frank told members of parliament's internal affairs committee that Stephan E. had confessed to shooting Walter Luebcke, who was found lying in a pool of blood outside his home in the state of Hesse on June 2.

Luebcke's murder has revived a debate about whether Germany has been doing enough to combat far-right groups since the chance discovery in 2011 of a neo-Nazi cell, the National Socialist Underground (NSU), whose members had murdered eight Turks, a Greek man and a German policewoman from 2000 to 2007.

The recent murder of the politician has also revealed the extent of growing far-right terrorism in the country. Germany is home to some 12,700 potentially violent far-right radicals, according to the BfV domestic intelligence agency.

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