German court convicts neo-nazi over attack plot

Ireland Online/May 4, 2005

A prominent German neo-Nazi was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison today for leading a terrorist group that discussed attacking the dedication of a Munich synagogue.

A Bavarian state court found Martin Wiese, 29, guilty of membership in a terrorist organisation for heading the far-right Kameradschaft Sued extremist group, which collected weapons and discussed how it could stop the November 9, 2003, ground-breaking ceremony, attended by Germany’s president and Jewish leaders.

“The goal of the group was the abolition of the free, democratic German order to be able to introduce a Nazi-style government,” presiding Judge Bernd von Heintschel-Heinegg said as he read the court’s decision.

Part of the scheme involved carrying out a “bloody attack,” he said, while noting that they had “no concrete plans” to attack the dedication ceremony and that no date had been agreed upon.

Wiese has been known to authorities for years as the head of a group of neo-Nazis and skinheads that was active in protesting against the US war in Iraq and a now-finished travelling exhibition of photos documenting the Second World War atrocities committed by the German army.

He and his three co-defendants were arrested after police in September 2003 said they had foiled a planned attack on the dedication of the new Jewish centre, seizing nearly 4lbs of TNT, 31lbs of other suspected explosives and two hand grenades in raids.

They were all convicted of the same terrorism charge, which carries a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Alexander Maetzing, 28, was sentenced to five years and nine months and Karl-Heinz Statzberger, 24, received four years and three months in prison. The third, 22-year-old David Schulz, who was tried as a juvenile due to his age at the time of arrest, was sentenced to two years and three months in juvenile detention.

During the five month trial, Maetzing and Statzberger testified they had gathered the supplies for an attack. They said many targets were discussed, including the synagogue dedication, and that there were no concrete plans.

While Wiese had confessed to collecting weapons and “war junk” to finance the group’s political activities, he remained adamant that he had never belonged to a terrorist organisation.

“At no point in time were there plans for an attack,” he told the court in a final statement on Tuesday. “We are not terrorists.”

In early April, three women and one man, ages 18 to 23, were found guilty of membership in a terrorist organisation for their lesser roles in the plot. A fifth defendant was convicted of aiding the group by obtaining explosives and of illegal possession of a firearm.

All received probationary sentences ranging from 16 to 22 months

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