Germany: Right-wing extremist soldier back in custody | News | DW | 14.02.2022

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Germany: Right-wing extremist soldier back in custody

A German court has ordered that Franco A., a soldier who allegedly planned a false flag terrorist attack, should once again be held in police custody.

A close-up of German soldier with his hands behind his back

Authorities launched investigations into right-wing sentiment among soldiers after the case of Franco A. came to light

A spokesperson for Frankfurt's Higher Regional Court on Monday said a German military officer who made headlines in 2017 was back in police custody. 

Franco A.* has been on trial since May last year over preparing a "serious act of violent subversion." He allegedly plotted to attack prominent politicians while posing as a Syrian refugee.

The court announced that, during an identity check, new objects were found in his possession that could serve as evidence.

A special police task force arrested Franco A. on Sunday morning, and he was due to appear before the court on Monday, the spokesperson said. 

First arrested in February 2017, Franco A. was in pretrial detention for seven months, until a court ordered his release in late November 2017. At the time, the court said there was "no urgent suspicion" he was preparing to commit a criminal act against the state. 

Before his arrest Sunday, he was required to check in with the authorities regularly, and half his salary was being withheld.

How systemic is right-wing extremism in the Bundeswehr?

What is the case?

Prosecutors accused Franco A. of living a double life as a Bundeswehr soldier with far-right extremist sentiments and a refugee receiving government benefits.

He allegedly planned to commit terrorist attacks targeting public figures while in disguise as a Syrian refugee and blame the incidents on asylum-seekers. 

Authorities said they found evidence of right-wing extremist sentiment in recordings, videos and tens of thousands of texts on messaging services used by him.

Franco A. is also suspected of stealing assault rifles from the German military and stashing weapons at an airport in Vienna.

He has confessed to owning a number of weapons, but has largely refuted the allegations against him.

The soldier's case sparked concerns over right-wing extremism in the Bundeswehr. In 2019, the Germany's Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) admitted it had underreported the numbers of soldiers it had removed from service because of right-wing extremist beliefs.

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

Fighting right-wing extremism in a town in Saxony

fb/dj (AFP, dpa)