Freital far-right group found guilty of terror offences and attempted murder

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Freital far-right group found guilty of terror offences and attempted murder
Defendant Patrick F. enters the court room in January. Photo: DPA

A Dresden court found seven men and a woman guilty of several offences including forming a terror group and attempted murder on Wednesday.


The judges said they were in no doubt that the group had been motivated by extreme political views to carry out five explosive attacks on refugee homes and against political opponents in 2015.

The group's leaders Timo Schulz and Patrick Festing were sentenced to 10 and nine-and-a-half years in prison respectively. The other six received custodial terms of between four and eight-and-a-half years.

The seven men and one woman, now aged between 20 and 40, modified pyrotechnics they had bought in the neighbouring Czech Republic for the explosives attacks.

One Syrian refugee was injured in a blast, and prosecutors argued that the group had casually accepted the risk of more victims and possible deaths in their attacks.

Based in Germany's ex-communist east, the so-called "Freital group" had sought to create "a climate of fear" at the height of Germany's refugee and migrant influx in 2015, prosecutors said.

Defence lawyers did not dispute the attacks but rejected the charge that they constituted terrorism or attempted murder, arguing instead that the bombings were "spontaneous".

The Freital group is named after the members' hometown, which drew notoriety beyond German borders in 2015 when enraged protesters there railed against "criminal foreigners" and "asylum-seeking pigs".

Nearby Dresden, capital of the eastern state of Saxony, was the birthplace of the anti-Islamic street movement Pegida, which has ties with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) that has since entered Germany's parliament.

The trial was held under tight security in a temporary courtroom complex with on-site holding cells located in a former refugee accommodation centre on the outskirts of Dresden.

The eight accused were found guilty of five attacks with explosives between July and November 2015 -- two on Freital refugee homes, two on an office and a car of far-left Die Linke politicians, and one on a Dresden communal residential complex.

A Syrian refugee suffered "multiple cuts" to the face when three explosive devices were hurled through the windows of a refugee housing centre on the night of October 31.

On the final day of hearings in February, Festing, a pizza delivery and warehouse worker, had apologised to the victims without, however, clearly distancing himself from far-right and racist ideology, reported regional newspaper Saechsische Zeitung.

"I am sorry," he said. "I can't explain why I did it."

Schulz, a bus driver, was previously handed a one-year suspended jail sentence for a baseball bat attack on the car of pro-refugee activists.



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