Extremism: Second “Reichsbürger” trial over coup plans has begun

Extremism: Second “Reichsbürger” trial over coup plans has begun

Nine defendants have to stand trial in Frankfurt. This is the second terror trial against the group around Prince Reuss. According to the prosecution, a storm on the Reichstag building was planned.

Military salute, hugs and a slow start: the “Reich Citizen” trial of Henry XIII took place in Frankfurt am Main under enormous security precautions. Prince Reuss started.

The nine defendants – including ex-military men, an aristocrat and a former member of the Bundestag – appear anything but intimidated. There is laughter, whispering, hugging with defenders and the military salute to presumably like-minded people. What follows at the start: lengthy applications from the defense attorneys, court consultations and breaks.

The trial before the Higher Regional Court starts around three quarters of an hour late in the lightweight metal hall on the outskirts of the city that was built specifically for the trial. A court spokeswoman pointed out to media representatives that some lawyers still wanted to speak to their clients, “it wasn’t up to us, the Higher Regional Court.” The presiding judge, Jürgen Bonk, has around 20 lawyers – several are missing without notice. Some of those present then submit numerous applications, most of which the court rejects after breaks in deliberations. Because first the indictment should be read out.

This contains 617 pages, but only one indictment of 65 pages is presented in the trial. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office explained its charges for more than two hours. She accuses the nine men and women of being members of a terrorist organization or of having supported it. Prince Reuss acted as a ringleader, said the representative of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, Tobias Engelstetter, in his lecture.

The terrorist organization was founded at the end of July 2021. An armed group allegedly broke into the Reichstag building in Berlin and arrested members of the Bundestag and members of the federal government. The charge is partly based on planning a treasonous enterprise. Violation of the weapons law is also among the allegations against some of the defendants.

Own form of government already developed

Specifically, the indictment states that the group’s goal is to “forcibly eliminate the existing state order in Germany and replace it with its own form of government that has already been fundamentally developed.” The defendants were linked to each other through conspiracy theories and narratives from “Reich citizens”. Prince Reuss also contacted Russian representatives with the plans.

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office also provides insights into what the group believes such a state should look like. At the head should be a nobleman, in the person of Prince Reuss. The former AfD member of the Bundestag and ex-Berlin judge Birgit Malsack-Winkemann was designated for the justice sector. Other departments were already staffed.

After the planned takeover of power, the group also wants the authorities to be restructured. According to the indictment, for example, officials who were voluntarily vaccinated against Corona with an mRNA vaccine should be fired.

Organized shooting training

The planned armed attack on the Reichstag building is repeatedly discussed in the courtroom. To do this, Malsack-Winkemann led other members through the Bundestag’s properties and took photos with his smartphone. A shooting training session was also held in preparation.

According to the federal prosecutor’s office, the group had access to a massive weapons arsenal, consisting of around 380 firearms, almost 350 cutting and stabbing weapons and almost 500 other weapons and at least 148,000 pieces of ammunition. They also had around half a million euros at their disposal for their overthrow plans. According to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, military personnel were repeatedly recruited. Rüdiger von Pescatore is accused of being the head of the so-called military arm and, according to the indictment, the second ringleader alongside Reuss.

The so-called Reichsbürger in Germany claim that the German Empire (1871-1945) continues to exist. The Federal Republic and its laws do not recognize them. The defendants are presumed innocent until a verdict is reached. Reuss’ lawyers repeatedly explained to journalists on the sidelines of the trial that their client was not a ringleader of a terrorist organization. He also wanted to demonstrate this in the proceedings. The defense lawyers also criticize the fact that the proceedings were divided into three locations.

The defense attorney for one of the accused women declared in his opening statement in court late in the afternoon that his client was not a “Reich citizen.” The defense attorney criticized the 53-year-old for being unfairly prejudiced by the media. The defendants do not all have the same ideological background. In addition to the previous federal government’s Corona policy, the defense lawyer also criticized the court case, saying it was a propaganda tool for state action.

Three processes in total

The trial is the second of three mammoth trials against the group: the trial against suspected representatives of the military wing began in Stuttgart at the end of April. The remaining suspected members of the group will be on trial in Munich from June 18th. The conspiracy plans became known after a large-scale anti-terror raid in December 2022.

The figures for the trial in Frankfurt are impressive: In addition to the nine defendants, there are five judges, two additional judges and 25 defense lawyers in the trial. Around 260 witnesses are to be called. According to the court, the documents relating to the trial are stored in 801 binders. The process is expected to take a long time and dates have been set until next year.

According to the court, the defendants face up to ten years in prison if they are found guilty of one count. In the event of multiple guilty verdicts and a total sentence, the maximum sentence would be 15 years in prison.

Source: Stern

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