Court rejects appeal by German soldier convicted of plotting to attack politicians

BERLIN (AP) — A German federal court said Thursday that it has rejected an appeal by a military officer who posed as a Syrian asylum-seeker and was convicted last of year of plotting to attack prominent politicians.

The officer, who has been identified only as 1st Lt. Franco A. in line with German privacy rules, was convicted by the Frankfurt state court in July 2022 of preparing a serious crime meant to endanger the state, fraud and violations of weapons laws. The court, which found that he had right-wing extremist views, sentenced him to 5 1/2 years in prison.

The Federal Court of Justice said in a statement that judges rejected his appeal in an Aug. 8 decision, finding that it was “clearly unfounded” and no legal errors had been made to his detriment.

The German officer drew the attention of authorities after he was arrested in February 2017 while going to retrieve a pistol he had stashed in a Vienna airport bathroom. He was freed, but Austrian authorities informed Germany. The investigation was triggered when his fingerprint matched one he had given to register as an asylum-seeker.

Franco A. was accused of plotting to kill prominent politicians and blame the attack on refugees. Prosecutors alleged that his targets included then-Justice Minister Heiko Maas and the Jewish head of an anti-racism organization.

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, they said.

The Frankfurt court found that the defendant had decided to carry out the attacks, but was unable to establish whether he planned to do so while posing as a Syrian refugee.

The soldier denied having planned attacks at his trial, but said that he had hoarded weapons and ammunition in case public order collapsed in Germany. He asserted that by posing as an asylum-seeker, he wanted to uncover faults in asylum proceedings.

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