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Verdict on German soldier accused of far-right conspiracy

#Verdict #German #soldier #accused #farright #conspiracy

A German court is due on Friday to deliver its verdict in the bizarre case of a soldier accused of planning a far-right attack on senior politicians while successfully posing as a Syrian refugee.

The long-delayed process put neo-Nazi sympathies in the ranks of the Bundeswehr and the effectiveness of the security services in the fight against right-wing extremism in the limelight – described by the interior minister as the greatest threat to the country.

“It is the first time in post-war Germany that a member of the Bundeswehr has been accused of planning a terrorist attack,” said Annette Ramelsberger, a senior court reporter for the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The accused Franco Albrecht, a 33-year-old father of three children, has been in the dock in front of the Higher Regional Court in the western part of Frankfurt since May 2021.

The lieutenant in the Bundeswehr is accused of having planned “a serious act of violence that endangers the state,” whose alleged targets also included members of the cabinet, members of parliament and a prominent Jewish human rights activist.

“He wanted to stage an attack with major political implications,” said prosecutor Karin Weingast in the closing argument.

Albrecht is accused of belonging to a loose network of far-right soldiers who are hoarding weapons and envisioning “Day X” when they would overthrow the federal government in an extremist military coup.

– “Setting problem” –

Albrecht, who has a full beard and his long hair pulled back in a ponytail, is said to have darkened his skin with makeup to pose as a penniless Syrian refugee and duped immigration officials for 15 months despite not speaking Arabic.

He was arrested in 2017 when he tried to recover a Nazi-era handgun he had hidden in a toilet at Vienna International Airport, and his fraud was discovered when his fingerprints matched two different identities.

“Neither Arabic nor details of my story were necessary,” Albrecht described his talks with the immigration authorities.

Soon after his arrest, then-Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, now head of the European Commission, said Albrecht’s case pointed to a much larger “attitude problem” in the German military.

Von der Leyen’s successor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, ordered the partial dissolution of the KSK commando force in 2020 after it became known that some of its members harbored neo-Nazi sympathies.

According to the prosecutor, Albrecht planned to use both the pistol and other weapons and explosives that he had taken from the Bundeswehr for an attack.

But they backed down from an accusation that he planned to use his false refugee identity to pin the crime on a Syrian due to lack of evidence.

Albrecht’s lawyers called for a suspended sentence solely for violations of the weapons law, prosecutors demanded a prison sentence of six years and three months.

– ‘My Fight’ –

Albrecht told the court he misled authorities at the height of the 2015-16 migrant flow, which saw more than a million asylum seekers pour into Germany.

The soldier, the son of a German mother and an estranged Italian immigrant father, posed as a Christian fruit seller from Damascus named David Benjamin.

Albrecht, who repeatedly expressed anti-Semitic, racist and hard-line nationalist views in court during his trial, testified that then-Chancellor Angela Merkel violated the constitution by taking in the refugees.

Investigations revealed that he possessed a copy of Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf and stated that immigration was a form of “genocide”.

Albrecht was released on bail early in his trial but was re-arrested in February this year when he was found with Nazi memorabilia and other weapons, including five machetes under his mattress.

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#Verdict #German #soldier #accused #farright #conspiracy

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