German soldier charged in far-right plot against politicians

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BERLIN (AP) — A German military officer has been indicted on allegations he plotted to kill prominent political figures and blame the attack on refugees, prosecutors said Tuesday, in a case that raised concerns about extremism in the country's military.

Federal prosecutors said they charged the 28-year-old, identified only as 1st Lt. Franco Hans A. in line with German privacy rules, with planning an act of violence as well as violating weapons and explosives laws.

The soldier, stationed with a Franco-German brigade in Illkirch, just across the border from Kehl in France, also is charged with theft and fraud in the Dec. 4 indictment.

Prosecutors allege the suspect, whom they described as a "right-wing nationalist," managed to pose as a Syrian asylum-seeker and planned to carry out his attack under that identity so that refugees would be blamed.

They say his targets included Justice Minister Heiko Maas and that he had stockpiled four firearms including an assault rifle, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and more than 50 explosive devices, some stolen from military stores.

He came to the attention of authorities after he was arrested in February while going to retrieve a pistol he'd stashed in a Vienna airport bathroom. He was freed, but Austrian authorities informed Germany. When the soldier's fingerprint matched the one he'd given when he registered as a refugee, it triggered the current investigation.

Two other soldiers, identified only as Maximilian T. and Mathias F., were also investigated in connection the scheme but have since been released for lack of evidence.

The German military, called the Bundeswehr, has been also looking into the case internally and more broadly at the issue of extremism in its ranks at the urging of Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

Among other things she brought up when the case broke in April, von der Leyen said A. came to the attention of his superiors for expressing "clearly racist and far-right extremist" views in a 2014 dissertation for his officer's training, but was let off with a warning.


Geir Moulson contributed to this story.

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