BERLIN – A German court on Friday convicted a soldier who posed as a Syrian asylum seeker of plotting to attack prominent politicians, sentencing him to five and a half years in prison.
The state court in Frankfurt convicted the defendant of preparing a serious crime intended to endanger the state, violations of weapons laws and fraud, the German news agency dpa reported. He was also found to have right-wing extremist views. He has been identified only as First Lieutenant Franco A. in accordance with German privacy rules.
The 33-year-old German came to the attention of the authorities after he was arrested in February 2017 while going to retrieve a gun he had hidden in a bathroom at Vienna airport. He was released, but the Austrian authorities informed Germany. When the soldier’s fingerprint matches the one he gave to register as an asylum seeker, it triggers the investigation.
The defendant was accused of conspiring to kill prominent politicians and blamed the attack on refugees. Prosecutors said the defendant’s targets included then-Justice Minister Heiko Maas and the Jewish head of an anti-racism organization.
He had amassed four firearms, including an assault rifle, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and more than 50 explosive devices, some stolen from military depots, they said.
The court found that the accused decided to carry out the attacks, but was unable to establish whether he had planned to do so by posing as a Syrian refugee, DPA reported. He also failed to clarify where he got weapons from and where they are now.
The soldier denied planning attacks during his trial, which began in May last year, but said he had stored weapons and ammunition in case public order broke down in Germany. He claimed that by posing as an asylum seeker, he wanted to expose flaws in the asylum procedures.
Prosecutors, who described him as a “radical right-wing terrorist”, asked for a sentence of six years and three months.
The defense asked for his acquittal on the main charge of preparing a felony to endanger the state and fines or suspended sentences on other charges. Defense attorneys say they plan to appeal the verdict.
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German soldier posing as refugee convicted of conspiracy to attack
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