German soldier who ‘jokingly’ called for coup facing criminal charges

A German soldier who "jokingly" called for a coup against the Defence Minister is now facing charges of incitement to commit a crime, German media reported on Friday.

German soldier who 'jokingly' called for coup facing criminal charges
File photo: DPA.

Bild reported in May that the soldier said during a UN mission seminar on May 12th in Wildflecken, Bavaria that: “I'm fed up that 200,000 soldiers have been placed under general suspicion because of two crazy guys. The Defence Minister has lost all credibility for me – we need to address that or have a putsch.”

Spiegel reported on Friday that the Bundeswehr (German military) has since filed criminal charges against the soldier for incitement of a criminal offence.

The lieutenant-colonel had reportedly criticized Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen for making a blanket statement against the “attitude problem” of troops after it was revealed that two soldiers and one civilian were plotting a far-right terror attack.

The far-right plot began to unravel in April after investigators revealed that one of the soldiers, Franco Albrecht, had pretended to be a Syrian refugee and managed to gain asylum, despite speaking no Arabic. He and two others reportedly planned to blame their attack on his fake refugee identity.

Von der Leyen’s criticism of the Bundeswehr in the wake of the revelations outraged a number of military personnel at the time.

The lieutenant-colonel in Bavaria said his call for a coup was a “satirical exaggeration” and that when he made the statement, “the whole room laughed”.

Nevertheless, the lead inspector at the barracks reported him to the Military Counter-Intelligence Service (MAD), and all seminar participants were questioned about the coup statement.    

Public prosecutors in Bonn must now decide whether to open an investigation. If the lieutenant-colonel were to be convicted, he could be jailed, fined or be dismissed from the Bundeswehr.