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Germany: Right-wing extremist soldier back in custody

DW - South Africa logo DW - South Africa 2022/02/14
Authorities launched investigations into right-wing sentiment among soldiers after the case of Franco A. came to light © Provided by DW Authorities launched investigations into right-wing sentiment among soldiers after the case of Franco A. came to light

A spokesperson for Fraknfut's Higher Regional Court on Monday said that a German military officer who made headlines in 2017 was back into police custody.

Franco A. has been on trial since May last year over preparing a "serious act of violent subversion." He allegedly plotted to attack prominent politicians while posing as a Syrian refugee.

The court announced that, during an identity check, new objects were found on Franco A's person that could serve as evidence.

A special police task force arrested him on Sunday morning, and he was due to appear before the court on Monday, the spokesperson said.

First arrested in February 2017, Franco A. was in pretrial detention for seven months, until a court ordered his release in late November 2017. At the time, the court said there was "no urgent suspicion" he was preparing to commit a criminal act against the state.

Before his arrest Sunday, he was required to check in with the authorities regularly, and half his salary was being withheld.

What is the case?

Prosecutors accused Franco A. of living a double life as a Bundeswehr soldier with far-right extremist sentiments and a refugee receiving government benefits.

He allegedly planned to commit terrorist attacks targeting public figures while in disguise as a Syrian refugee and blame the incidents on asylum seekers.

Authorities said they found evidence of right-wing extremist sentiment in recordings, videos and tens of thousands of texts on messaging services used by him.

Franco A. is also suspected of stealing assault rifles from the German military and stashing weapons at an airport in Vienna, Austria.

He confessed to owning a number of weapons, but has largely refuted the allegations against him.

The soldier's case sparked concerns over right-wing extremism in the Bundeswehr. In 2019, the Germany's Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) admitted it had underreported the numbers of soldiers it had removed from service because of right-wing extremist beliefs.

Editor's note: DW follows the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and urges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases.

fb/dj (AFP, dpa)

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