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A third trial of suspects in an alleged far-right coup plot opens in Germany

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BERLIN (AP) — Eight people accused of involvement in a suspected far-right plot to topple the German government went on trial in Munich on Tuesday, in the last of three trials in the sprawling case.

The eight Germans, six men and two women, are charged with “preparation of high treasonous undertaking.” They also face charges of membership in or founding a terrorist organization, and some of them are charged with preparing a serious act of violence.

The case came to light in late 2022, shocking the country, and a total of 26 people are now in court. The alleged ringleaders and most prominent suspects, among them a self-styled prince and a former far-right lawmaker, went on trial in Frankfurt last month. A trial of nine people in Stuttgart that began at the end of April is focusing on the “military arm” of the plot.

All are expected to be lengthy proceedings. At the Munich state court, 55 trial sessions have been set so far through the end of January, German news agency dpa reported.

Prosecutors have said the suspects believed in “conspiracy myths” including Reich Citizens and QAnon ideology, and were convinced that Germany is ruled by a so-called deep state. Adherents of the Reich Citizens movement reject Germany’s postwar constitution and have called for bringing down the government, while QAnon is a global conspiracy theory with roots in the United States.

The defendants in the Munich case include Ruth L. and Thomas T., alleged founding members of the group who prosecutors say co-led a so-called “transcommunication” department in the group’s extended leadership. That was allegedly responsible for the “spiritual examination” of new members and for advising Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss, whom investigators say the group planned to install as Germany’s provisional new leader.

The group planned to storm into the parliament building in Berlin and arrest lawmakers, according to prosecutors. It allegedly intended to negotiate a post-coup order primarily with Russia, as one of the allied victors of World War II.

The plotters allegedly had about 500,000 euros ($535,000) in funding and access to an arsenal of weapons. Federal prosecutors say they had drawn up several “lists of enemies” to be used in the takeover of regional and local authorities.

The trials come at a time of wider concern about the far right in Germany. In its annual report for 2023 released Tuesday, the domestic intelligence agency said that the number of potentially violent right-wing extremists rose to 14,500 last year from 14,000 in 2022.

The overall number of far-right offenses rose by more than 22% to 25,660, with more than half of those involving propaganda, the agency said. Violent far-right offenses were up 13%, climbing to 1,148 — 1,016 of which involved bodily harm.

The intelligence agency’s head, Thomas Haldenwang, said there was a sharp increase in extreme right-wing demonstrations, and that their central focus was on asylum and migration.

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