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German soldier charged with plotting to kill politicians

December 12, 2017

A soldier in the Bundeswehr has been charged with planning to carry out attacks on high-ranking political figures and frame refugees for the crimes. The justice minister was among those on his hit list.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Schulze

The 28-year-old lieutenant, identified as Franco A., was charged with planning an act of violence and violating weapons and explosives laws, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

The renewed federal indictment comes just two weeks after Germany's top criminal court threw out a case against the suspect,saying at the time that current investigations had not provided sufficient evidence.

Prosecutors allege the soldier managed to register as a Syrian refugee with German authorities, and that he planned to use this false identity to carry out attacks. 

Read more: What draws right-wing extremists to the military?

He plotted to assassinate "high-ranking politicians and public figures who are known for what the accused regarded as particularly refugee-friendly activities," the prosecutor's office said in a Tuesday statement. His list of targets reportedly included German Justice Minister Heiko Maas, Greens politician Claudia Roth, as well as human rights activists and journalists.

"He wanted to divert the investigations into the attacks he was planning onto asylum seekers living in Germany," prosecutors wrote. "According to the accused's plans, his attacks were supposed to be seen by the public as an act of radical Islamic terror committed by a migrant who had been granted asylum." 

Read more: German military investigating right-wing extremism within its ranks 

German defense minister shares findings on neo-Nazis in military – DW's Simon Young

Extremism in the army

Franco A., who prosecutors described as a "right-wing nationalist," had received thousands of euros in asylum seeker benefits, and had allegedly stockpiled firearms, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and dozens of explosive devices.  "At least some" of this stockpile had been taken from Bundeswehr stores, prosecutors allege.

The soldier was first arrested in April in a case that drew national attention and raised concerns about extremists in the military. Angela Merkel's government, particularly Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, came under pressure to investigate right-wing radicalism among soldiers.

The case also prompted a review of hundreds of asylum applications

Read more: Germany promises army reforms after neo-Nazi terror plot

According to Germany's Military Counterintelligence Service, about 200 Bundeswehr soldiers have been classified as right-wing extremists since 2008.

nm/msh (AFP, Reuters, dpa, epd, AP)