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Germany

Neo-Nazi Trial Opens in Bavaria

Five neo-Nazis accused of planning an attack on a Jewish cultural center in Munich last November, faced trial in a Bavarian courtroom on Wednesday amid tight security.

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A neo-Nazi demonstration in August

It's said to one of Germany's highest-profile trials since extremists from the Red Army Faction appeared in the dock in the 1980s.

Three women, aged 18 to 22, and two men, aged 18 and 37, all members of the extreme right-wing group 'Kameradschaft Süd' (Comradeship South) are charged with supporting and being members of a terrorist group.

The accused face prison sentences of up to 10 years if found guilty.

Plot to attack Jewish center

According to the federal prosecution, the accused were planning to launch an attack on the Jewish cultural centre in Munich on November 9 last year, on the day of a ground-breaking ceremony attended by then German President Johannes Rau.

The ceremony was timed to coincide with the 65th anniversary of Kristallnacht, when Nazi gangs burned down synagogues and smashed the windows of Jewish shops and businesses.

Investigators believe the accused were planning to plant a bomb on the building site of the Jewish center.

Hoping for "a tough sentence"

Polizei präsentiert Waffen und Sprengstoff in München

Vice president of Munich's police, Jens Viering shows weapons and other material seized during house raids in Munich on Sept. 10, 2003.

Following a tip-off from an informant and information gleaned through electronic eavesdropping, police raided a house in Munich last year and found bomb-making equipment including around 1.2 kilograms of the explosive TNT as well as a stash of weapons.

A spokesman for the Munich criminal court said: "I cannot recall a trial on this scale since the RAF trials in Munich."

The leader of Kameradschaft Süd and mastermind of the attack, Martin Wiese, 28, and three other accomplices will go on trial early next year.

Bavarian Interior Minister Günther Beckstein said he was confident that the evidence would suffice for a conviction. "I hope for a fair and that means tough sentence," Beckstein said in a radio interview Tuesday.

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