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Germany: Ex-lawmaker on trial over bid to storm Reichstag

January 19, 2022

A former far-right AfD lawmaker is in court after allegedly calling for the overthrow of the German state. The accused was part of the storming of the steps of the Reichstag in 2020 during protests against COVID curbs.

Far-right demonstrators on the steps of the Reichstag waving flags
The former lawmaker Stefan R. was kicked out of the AfD after calling for the violent overthrow of the stateImage: JeanMW/imago images

The trial against a former German state lawmaker from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party began on Wednesday in the city of Mainz.

Stefan R. is accused of insulting the state, public incitement to commit criminal acts, and resisting law enforcement officers.

The 40-year-old also took part in the storming of the steps of the Reichstag in Berlin — the building that houses the German parliament — alongside various far-right extremists in August 2020.

R. allegedly tried to hinder the clearing of the Reichstag steps by getting between police and protesters.

COVID-19 skeptics take their outrage public

What are the charges against the former lawmaker?

The former lawmaker had worked at the state level in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg until the end of April 2021.

During a protest against coronavirus measures in September 2020, he is said to have called Germany's representative democracy a "party dictatorship."

In a YouTube video posted on the same day as the storming of the government building, he allegedly called the German republic as "despotic" and "scum."

The indictment also charges R. with having called for the overthrow of the government through violence.

Following his comments, he was kicked out of the AfD at the end of September in 2020.

Germany's far-right problem

The steps of the German government building in Berlin were the scene of shocking images in September 2020 after extremists carrying far-right flags and signs broke off a protest in the capital against coronavirus restrictions.

The act was slammed by politicians across the board with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the time calling those involved "anti-democratic."

The ongoing protests against restrictions and vaccines in Germany have proved an often welcoming space for the far-right and neo-Nazis.

The AfD has tried to distance itself from some of the more extreme protest participants, but has also campaigned on ending all restrictions.

Many AfD lawmakers are still unvaccinated and a recent rule requiring individuals to present proof of vaccination effectively barred them from entering the Bundestag.

Editor's note: Deutsche Welle follows the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and obliges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases. 

ab/rs (dpa, AFP)

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