A court in Germany has sentenced the ringleader of a right-wing extremist group to six years in prison.
The group’s ringleader, Werner S. from Stuttgart, was convicted of having founded a terrorist organization.
What were the accusations?
The federal prosecutor’s office had accused the defendants of planning actions to overthrow the political order of Germany.
Members of Group S, so named after the main defendant, were said to have feared that Germany would be taken over by refugees.
They were accused of wanting to carry out attacks on mosques to provoke a civil war. Investigators recorded chats and telephone conversations and also relied on statements from a former group member.
The group was said to have possessed firearms, axes and swords for the planned attacks. All of the members were German citizens.
Prosecutors said “Group S” mainly communicated by phone and via messaging apps, but also held meetings in person. The investigators said three meetings were organized, where members took part in discussions and shooting exercises.
Those on trial had an “openly National Socialist attitude”, referring to the Nazi party.
The group was also accused of planning attacks on politicians including Robert Habeck, one of the co-leaders of Germany’s Green party at the time and now Germany’s vice-chancellor.
One defense lawyer tried to argue that the group never intended to follow through on their schemes and racist rhetoric, calling them a “collection of sloganeering blowhards.”
The court imposed prison and probation terms on another nine defendants for founding, joining or supporting a terrorist organization. One defendant was acquitted
One of the suspects died in custody before charges were filed, while one of the defendants, from Bavaria, died during the trial.
The proceedings took place under tight security and lasted two-and-a-half years with more than 170 days of court proceedings. Police first arrested the suspects in February 2020.
The case was prolonged because of the coronavirus pandemic and the complexity of the evidence against the defendants.
There has been mounting concern about the rise of far-right extremism in recent years in Germany, with a series of plots uncovered and attacks that have taken place.
Last year, members of a group known as the Reichsbürger were arrested over a plan to attack parliament and overthrow the government, installing a self-styled prince as head of state.
Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, said in June that there were some 338,800 people who belonged to the right-wing extremist spectrum in Germany in 2022, up from 33,900 in 2021.
Source : DW