Home News In Germany, far-right coup plotters go on trial

In Germany, far-right coup plotters go on trial

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Prince Reuss Heinrich XIII, an unknown aristocrat who wanted to become Germany’s chancellor, went on trial in Frankfurt on Tuesday with eight men and women who plotted to violently overthrow the government and put him in power.

Nearly a year and a half ago, a massive raid involving 3,000 police officers at 150 locations across the country was foiled by authorities. A strange far-right plan to seize powerthis prince The conspirators will begin to face justice. It is expected to be one of the most complex court cases since the trial of Auschwitz concentration camp commanders in West Germany in the 1960s.

In a large, hastily constructed gray makeshift courtroom on the outskirts of Frankfurt, the nine defendants met for the first time since late 2022, when most of them were arrested. During that time, prosecutors analyzed thousands of documents, chat exchanges and hours of witness testimony to prepare a case they hope will show the serious danger posed by potential insurgents, including several retired elite soldiers, a Police and a former rebel. Federal far-right MP.

Tobias Engelstetter, one of four federal prosecutors prosecuting the case in Frankfurt, read out the bizarre details behind the charges during more than two hours of opening statements.

Members of the group, who call themselves United Patriots, believe the government is run by pedophile, illegal politicians who have access to a network of underground military bases. Prosecutors said the plotters believed there was a secret alliance of sympathetic foreign intelligence agencies, including those belonging to the United States and Russia, that would help the group overthrow the deep state if a signal was sent.

The defendants were members of a group within the Reich Citizens Movement, which considered the modern German state to be illegitimate.

“Migrant ‘Reich citizens’ are driven by hatred for our democracy,” German Interior Minister Nancy Fesser said in a statement on Tuesday. “Our security services will continue their crackdown until we have fully exposed and dismantled radical ‘Reichsbürger’ structures.”

The massive trial in Frankfurt is just one of three lawsuits stemming from the case plotFederal prosecutors indicted 27 people, a core group of alleged conspirators too large to fit in one courtroom.

A trial began in Stuttgart last month focusing on nine men who could be classified as part of the military wing of the operation. Eight people suspected of masterminding the conspiracy, who federal prosecutors say provided financial support, will go on trial next month in a high-security court in Munich. A 27th suspect died while awaiting trial. Experts say the trial could take years to reach a conclusion.

Prosecutors said the nine defendants in Frankfurt represented the coup’s leadership in what was arguably the most important trial of the year. Several men scheduled to appear in court in Frankfurt on Tuesday have been charged with founding the terror group; prosecutors said others were members of a leadership committee appointed to form the cabinet that would answer to the prince if the coup was successful. Two women appeared before the five-judge panel accused of seeking Russian support for the coup.

“This trial will provide insight not only into preparations but also into the alleged terrorist group’s links to Russia,” said Jan Rathje, who studies the Reich Citizens movement for an NGO that monitors extremism and the far right. .

But authorities say that despite their idiosyncratic beliefs, the group’s members pose a real danger. Authorities found 380 firearms and 350 other weapons such as knives, axes and clubs. They also found 148,000 rounds of ammunition, explosives, military helmets and protective gear, as well as gold and cash worth 500,000 euros (about $543,000).

The group’s two founders, Rüdiger von Pescatore and Maximilan Eder, are both retired military officers; prosecutors said the court found Michael F., who served as interior minister in the post-coup regime and had Serve as Chief Inspector of Criminal Police. Birgit Malsack-Winkemann is a judge who was elected to the Bundestag for a four-year term in 2017 as a far-right candidate.

The defendants adhere to a worldview composed of QAnon-type myths and far-right historical revisionism of the pre-World War I German Reich. The prince has long been angry about what he sees as the loss of his ancestral land, and many former army officials believe the government has grossly mismanaged the country.

According to prosecutors, in the summer of 2021 the group planned to overthrow the government by entering parliament and arresting senior politicians. A video showing the capture of German Chancellor Olaf Schulz will be broadcast to the nation as a result of the successful coup. Prosecutors said 286 “homeland security teams” would then be tasked with controlling the population, even if that meant killing or imprisoning those who resisted the new leadership.

Prosecutors allege that to plan the rebellion, the group’s “committee” met regularly at one of the prince’s old hunting castles.

But according to prosecutors, members of the group began to turn against each other in the fall of 2022, when the council and the military began supporting different strategies. While Mr von Pescatore was designing uniforms based on old Wehrmacht uniforms, the prince became increasingly concerned that some of the organization’s documents were being distributed too widely. Some former officers also contacted serving army generals, who rejected their advances and alerted authorities.

Prosecutors said the prince took on an important leadership role early on despite failing to find a movement to commit him to national leadership.because of his The family’s pride in the German Kaiser familyHis reign as ruler of Germany ended with the disaster of World War I, and he was the ideal leader of the group, believing that only a true royal could sign a lasting peace treaty with a foreign government.

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