Neo-Nazi ‘terror’ group in dock in Germany over attack plot
The trial of a neo-Nazi “terrorist” cell accused of plotting violent political upheaval in Germany opens Monday amid reports the country’s far-right scene is growing more armed and radical.
Eight members of the so-called Revolution Chemnitz group aged between 21 and 32 will answer to charges of “forming a right-wing terrorist organization”, according to federal prosecutors.
Almost a year to the day after most of the suspects’ arrest in coordinated raids, the proceedings will take place under tight security in Dresden, the capital of Saxony state, a stronghold of the extreme right.
Resentment runs deep in the region over Merkel’s liberal refugee policy that led to the arrival of more than a million asylum seekers to Germany since 2015.
The anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim Alternative for Germany (AfD) party scored 27.5 percent in a state election earlier this month, just shy of the 32 percent garnered by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.
The suspects are accused of “coming together to achieve their political goals — to shake the foundations of the state — with serious violent acts”, a spokeswoman for the superior regional court said.
They allegedly sought to carry out “violent attacks and armed assaults” against immigrants, political “opponents”, reporters and members of the economic establishment.
Authorities believe the group’s members were trying to acquire semi-automatic weapons for a potential bloodbath last year in Berlin on October 3, Germany’s National Unity Day.
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.
A violent ‘test-run’
The defendants belong to the hooligan, neo-Nazi and skinhead scene in and around Chemnitz, another city in Saxony, which was the scene of anti-migrant street violence following the murder of a German man in August last year.
Last month a 24-year-old Syrian man was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in jail for the knife killing.
In the hours after the stabbing, thousands of people took to the streets in protest, answering calls by the AfD and nationalist group PEGIDA.
The defendants launched an online chat group under the name Revolution Chemnitz around the same time, in early September 2018.
Prosecutors said that on September 14 five of the suspects “armed with glass bottles, weighted knuckle gloves, and an electroshock appliance, attacked and hurt several foreign residents” in Chemnitz.
“Investigations show that the assault was a test-run for an event that one of the accused planned for October 3, 2018,” they said.
The men reportedly “wanted to achieve more than the National Socialist Underground” or NSU, a neo-Nazi extremist group uncovered in 2011 that murdered 10 people and planted three bombs.
However, authorities say they were able to swoop on the cell before it could carry out its plans.
Most of the men were arrested on October 1, 2018 while their alleged ringleader, 32-year-old electrician Christian Keilberg, was picked up two weeks later for attacking immigrants in Chemnitz.