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CRIME

Murder charges levelled at neo-Nazi suspect

Prosecutors have added murder charges to a list of allegations against National Socialist Underground member Beate Zschäpe. She has now been formally implicated in ten murders allegedly carried out by the neo-Nazi terrorist group.

Murder charges levelled at neo-Nazi suspect
Photo: DPA

German state prosecutors have requested that Zschäpe be charged with involvement in the killings, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported on Saturday. She has also been implicated in 14 robberies and attempted murder in connection with arson.

Zschäpe already stood accused of being a founding member of the far-right terrorist organization, the National Socialist Underground (NSU). But her involvement in the group’s alleged murder of nine immigrant shop owners and a policewoman has long been a source of speculation.

Now it appears that prosecutors at the Federal Prosecutors Office believe she played a more instrumental role as an accomplice to fellow NSU founding members Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt than previously thought.

The Zwickau-based group was uncovered late last year when Mundlos and Böhnhardt were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide pact after a botched bank robbery.

Zschäpe is accused of setting fire to the trio’s Zwickau home, while an 89-year-old neighbor may have been next door. She handed herself in several days later.

It’s been requested that the 37-year-old’s detention time be extended to allow for further investigation.

Zschäpe is yet to comment on the latest charges, but is said to have enlarged her defence team. She has already been in custody for nine months while prosecutors probe the case.

Several other suspected NSU associates have been arrested since the group came to the attention of police in November.

The Local/ccp

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CRIME

Germany busts far-right cell planning attack on parliament

German police launched nationwide raids on Wednesday and made 25 arrests against members of a far-right "terror group" suspected of planning an attack on parliament, federal prosecutors said.

Germany busts far-right cell planning attack on parliament

More than 3,000 officers including elite anti-terror units took part in the early morning raids and searched more than 130 properties, in what German media described as one of the largest police actions the country has ever seen.

The raids targeted alleged members of the “Citizens of the Reich” (Reichsbürger) movement suspected of “having made concrete preparations to violently force their way into the German parliament with a small armed group”, prosecutors said in a statement.

READ ALSO: What is Germany’s extremist Reichsbürger movement?

Those arrested are accused of having formed “a terrorist group by the end of November 2021 at the latest, which had set itself the goal of overcoming the existing state order in Germany and replacing it with their own kind of state”, they said.

Two of the 25 arrests were made abroad, in Austria and Italy.

The Reichsbürger movement includes neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists and gun enthusiasts who reject the legitimacy of the modern German republic.

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

Former soldiers are believed to be among the members of the recently established terror group, federal prosecutors said.

“The accused are united by a deep rejection of state institutions and the free, democratic basic order of the Federal Republic of Germany,” they said.

The suspects were aware that their plan “could only be realised by using military means and violence against state representatives,” they added.

The investigation gave “a look into the abyss” of far-right terror from the movement, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in a statement.

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann praised the dismantling of the “suspected terror cell” on Twitter, saying it showed that Germany was able to defend its democracy.

Russian contacts

Reichsbürger followers generally believe in the continued existence of the pre-war German Reich, or empire, as it stood under the Nazis, and several groups have declared their own states.

They typically deny the authority of police and other state institutions.

According to prosecutors, the terror cell suspects believe in Reichsbürger and QAnon conspiracy theories and are “strongly convinced” that Germany is run by a “deep state” that needs to be toppled.

They allegedly planned to appoint one of the arrested suspects, Heinrich XIII P.R., as Germany’s new leader after the coup.

He had already sought to make contact with Russian officials to discuss Germany’s “new state order” after the coup, prosecutors said.

Police before a raid on Wednesday morning in Frankfurt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

There was however “no indication that the contact persons responded positively to his request.”

A Russian woman named as Vitalia B., who was among those arrested on Wednesday, is suspected of having facilitated those contacts, prosecutors added.

As part of the preparations for the coup, members of the alleged terror cell acquired weapons, organised shooting practice and tried to recruit new followers, particularly among the military and police, according to
prosecutors.

Germany’s domestic intelligence service estimates that the Reichsbürger scene consists of around 20,000 people.

Of those, more than 2,000 are deemed potentially violent.

Germany considers far-right terrorism the biggest threat to its security following a spate of attacks in recent years.

In April, police foiled a plot by a far-right group to kidnap the health minister.

The group was affiliated with the Reichsbürger movement and the so-called “Querdenker” (Lateral Thinkers) group that opposed the government’s coronavirus-related shutdowns.

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