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Trial set for alleged leaders of German coup plot

Prince Heinrich XIII Reuss was detained in Frankfurt on December 7, 2022
Prince Heinrich XIII Reuss was detained in Frankfurt on December 7, 2022 - Copyright AFP -
Prince Heinrich XIII Reuss was detained in Frankfurt on December 7, 2022 - Copyright AFP -
Sebastien ASH

The alleged ringleaders of a suspected far-right plot to attack the German parliament and overthrow the government will go on trial in Frankfurt starting in May, a court said Tuesday.

Nine suspected members of the “terror group” behind the planned coup will be in the dock from May 21, the court said.

Among the defendants will be the two men alleged to have led the plot — the aristocrat and businessman Prince Heinrich XIII Reuss and a former army officer identified as Ruediger v.P.

Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, a judge and former member of parliament for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, will also stand trial.

The Frankfurt proceedings, which will last until early 2025 at least, are just one part of the sprawling case against the alleged coup plotters. 

In all, 26 people are accused of belonging to a nationwide extremist network allegedly led by Reuss, and one woman is alleged to have supported the group. 

Nine of the suspected plotters will go on trial in Stuttgart on April 29, while a separate trial will open against another eight suspected members of the group in Munich on June 18.

– Radicalised –

Police swooped on the group in raids across Germany in December 2022 and charges were brought at the end of last year.

The alleged plotters aimed to “forcibly eliminate the existing state order” and replace it with their own institutions, the Frankfurt court said.

The group allegedly organised a “council” to take charge after their putsch and planned to install Reuss as Germany’s new leader.

Malsack-Winkemann, the former AfD lawmaker, was allegedly tapped to take over as justice minister in the coup administration, according to federal prosecutors.

Investigators warned that the group’s preparations were already at an advanced stage at the time of their arrests.

Malsack-Winkemann and her alleged collaborators are accused by prosecutors of preparing to force their way into the German parliament as part of the coup plan.

The alleged plotters had resources amounting to 500,000 euros ($537,000) and a “massive arsenal of weapons”, the court said.

The group espoused a mix of “conspiracy myths” drawn in part from the Reichsbuerger and QAnon movements, the court said.

It shared a belief that Germany was run by members of a “deep state” and that the country could be liberated by an alliance of technologically savvy revolutionaries.

The Reichsbuerger movement includes far-right extremists and gun enthusiasts who reject the legitimacy of the modern German republic.

Its followers generally believe in the continued existence of the pre-World War I German Reich, or empire, under a monarchy, and several groups have declared their own states.

Long dismissed as malcontents and oddballs, the Reichsbuerger adherents have become increasingly radicalised in recent years and are seen as a growing security threat.

Written By

With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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