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Germany

Neo-Nazi on Trial for Planned Bomb Attack

A German neo-Nazi and three accomplices went on trial amid heavy security in Munich on Wednesday accused of planning a bomb attack at the site of a new Jewish center.

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Wiese (right) faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted

Prosecutors say that Martin Wiese, 28, and his three co-accused wanted to plant a bomb at a high-profile ceremony for the laying of the foundation stone on Nov. 9 last year.

The then German President Johannes Rau and Bavaria's state Premier Edmund Stoiber were among guests at the ceremony. But police uncovered the plan in mid-August and prevented any attack from taking place.

Nazi-Waffenlager ausgehoben

Confiscated Weapons belonging to the Kameradschaft Süd

Around 14 kilograms (28 pounds) of bomb-making equipment, including more than a kilogram of the explosive TNT, and a range of guns were found in searches in Munich.

A total of 11 members of Wiese's neo-Nazi group, the Kameradschaft Süd (Southern Comradeship) were arrested.

Influenced by government agent?

Wiese faces charges of being a ringleader of a terrorist group and could face up to 10 years in prison for that charge.

Three other members of the group, Alexander Mätzing, 28, Karl-Heinz Stratzberger, 24, and David Schulz, 23, are charged with membership of a terrorist organization. Five other members of the group went on trial in October.

Wiese's defense lawyer, Anja Seul, has said her client will not answer questions during the trial. Seul added she will show that Wiese was innocent because he was influenced by an undercover government agent who had infiltrated his group and encouraged him to hatch the plans for an attack.

Baustelle für das Zentrum der Jüdischen Kultusgemeinde

The construction site for the new Jewish center in Munich's center.

The agent was Wiese's "inspiration and at the same time became his second brain," the lawyer said outside the court. One of Wiese's co-accused, Mätzing, denied the group had been planning to attack the Jewish center. Asked what the explosives were for, Mätzing said: "I still don't know even today."

Investigators believe the plans to attack the Jewish center -- which includes a synagogue, a cultural center and a museum -- were abandoned following the arrest of two members of the Kameradschaft Süd who had beaten up a member who wanted to quit the group.

Plan to install Nazi dictatorship

The group then began plotting an attack on the main Marienplatz square in Munich, investigators say. A woman member of the group had volunteered to act as a suicide bomber in the attack, which never took place.

The prosecution says Wiese's overall aim was to bring down the German federal republic and install "a dictatorial system along Nazi lines."

Laden nach der Kristallnacht

A pedestrian looks at the wreckage of a Jewish shop in Berlin, Nov. 10, 1938, the day after Kristallnacht.

The date of the suspected attack is heavy with symbolism. Nov. 9, 2003, was the 65th anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) when Nazi thugs attacked and set on fire Jewish businesses and synagogues across Germany. The central synagogue in Munich was destroyed on Hitler's orders in June 1938, five months before Kristallnacht.

Nov. 9 is also the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's failed attempt to seize power in the Munich putsch in 1923.

The trial is expected to last until March next year.

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