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German minister kidnap plot: Sixth suspect charged

April 17, 2024

German prosecutors have said they have charged a 61-year-old man over a far-right plot to kidnap the health minister. The plotters from the group "United Patriots" also allegedly aimed to overthrow the entire government.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach
The group 'United Patriots' allegedly planned to kidnap Health Minister Karl LauterbachImage: Bernd Elmenthaler/Geisler-Fotopress/picture alliance

German prosecutors said on Wednesday that they had charged a sixth suspect in an alleged far-right plot to kidnap Health Minister Karl Lauterbach over COVID-19 restrictions. Prosecutors added that the groups also allegedly intended to overthrow the government as a whole.

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

Five other people from the group, which called itself "United Patriots," have already been charged in connection with the alleged plot and went on trial in the western city of Koblenz in May 2023.

What is the man suspected of doing?

The man charged Wednesday, who comes from the central western state of Hesse, allegedly "participated in meetings of the group and worked on the concretization of the plans."

The plans reportedly included strikes on the energy grid to cause a prolonged power outage that would provide cover for a coup attempt, investigators said.

The latest suspect also said he was ready to help kidnap Lauterbach, according to prosecutors.

The alleged plotters envisaged abducting the health minister "at gunpoint," while potentially killing his bodyguards, prosecutors said. 

In addition, the suspect allegedly offered the use of his garage as a weapons store for the group. 

The man 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. 

Opposition to democracy

The alleged plot was envisaged during the coronavirus pandemic, during which many far-right activists vigorously opposed the government's measures to rein in infections.

Lauterbach, in particular, was a much-hated figure in the scene because of his vehement support for many of the restrictions imposed.

The government's actions appear to have reinforced the view among a number of far-right groups, including the so-called Reichsbürger, of which the "United Patriots" are an offshoot, that the Federal Republic of Germany is an illegitimate institution.

The "United Patriots," like the Reichsbürger, aimed to replace the government with an authoritarian system, in this case, one "modelled on the constitution of the German Empire of 1871," investigators said.

tj/sms (dpa, AFP) 

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