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German far-right extremists charged with planning violent coup

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German far-right extremists charged with planning violent coup

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BERLIN — German prosecutors have charged 27 suspected far-right extremists with planning a violent coup.

The suspects are accused of membership of the fringe Reichsbürger — or Citizens of the Reich — movement.

“The members of the group strongly rejected state institutions and the free democratic constitutional order,” according to the indictment.

They are mostly associates of Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss, a Reichsbürger figurehead from an aristocratic family.

Prosecutors have charged the 27 people with planning to overthrow Germany’s democratic political system.

Concrete preparations were made for a coup beginning in summer 2021.

The plan was to seize power by invading the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, with a small group of armed personnel.

The assault would be launched after receiving a signal, such as the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The alleged plotters had already determined how their new state would function after the coup.

Prince Reuss was planned to be head of state. On taking office, he would negotiate a peace treaty with the Allied powers which won World War II.

Prince Reuss tried to meet representatives of the Russian government to gain support for the coup, according to prosecutors.

Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, then a member of the Bundestag for the far-right Alternative for Germany party, would have been made justice minister.

Prosecutors said she granted access to parliamentary buildings to other co-conspirators.

The would-be rebels are alleged to have attempted to recruit soldiers and police officers.

The group had drawn up lists of enemies. Members were aware that their plans would result in people being killed, according to the indictment.

Members were made to sign a declaration of secrecy. Violators would have been executed for high treason.

The suspected plotters had access to about 380 firearms and 148,000 rounds of ammunition.

Some of the accused were arrested in federal police raids last December.

According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, there are about 23,000 followers of the Reichsbürger movement in the country. — BBC

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