Germany charges sixth suspect in health minister kidnap plot

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Germany charges sixth suspect in health minister kidnap plot
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach wears a mask during a press conference in 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

German prosecutors said Wednesday they had charged a sixth suspect in a far-right plot to kidnap the health minister and overthrow the government in protest against Covid-19 restrictions.


The 61-year-old man was charged with "the preparation of a treasonous enterprise and membership in a terrorist organisation", Frankfurt prosecutors said in a statement.

The group intended to strike several parts of the energy grid to provoke a "nationwide power outage lasting several weeks" that would provide cover for a coup attempt, investigators said.

The alleged plotters planned to abduct Health Minister Karl Lauterbach "at gunpoint", potentially killing his bodyguards in the process.

During the coronavirus pandemic, some of the fiercest opponents of the government's anti-virus measures were far-right activists who reject Germany's democratic institutions.

Lauterbach had become a hate figure for the group because of the pandemic restrictions including the requirement to wear facemasks in public places that he had ordered.

"The kidnapping of a high-ranking federal government official was intended to demonstrate the group's determination and capabilities," prosecutors said.

The latest suspect was said to have "participated in meetings of the group and worked on the concretisation of the plans".

The man allegedly declared himself ready to participate in the kidnapping of Lauterbach, prosecutors said.

He also offered his garage in the region south of Frankfurt to a group ringleaders as a weapons store, investigators said.

The senior plotter was arrested in April 2022 and the arms - two AK-47 assault rifles and four Glock pistols - were never deposited.


The new suspect also offered to "sail" to Russia after the planned coup "as a member of a delegation to negotiate an 'alliance' with Russian state authorities and to procure military equipment", prosecutors said.

Five other members of the group went on trial in Koblenz in May 2023.


The group intended to replace the government with an authoritarian system "modelled on the constitution of the German Empire of 1871", according to investigators.

The belief that the German government is illegitimate is current among members of the far-right Reichsbürger (Citizens of the Reich) movement, which has attracted a growing number of followers.

The organisers of another alleged far-right plot to topple the government were arrested in raids at the end of 2022.

The trial of the suspected ringleader, the aristocrat and businessman Prince Heinrich XIII Reuss, will open in Frankfurt in May.


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