Neo-Nazis admit plan to bomb Jewish community centre

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The Independent Online

The trial of nine German neo-Nazis charged with conspiring to blow up a Jewish community centre took a dramatic turn yesterday when two of the accused confessed to hiding explosives for the bombing and admitted planning to use them against leading politicians and Jewish leaders.

The trial of nine German neo-Nazis charged with conspiring to blow up a Jewish community centre took a dramatic turn yesterday when two of the accused confessed to hiding explosives for the bombing and admitted planning to use them against leading politicians and Jewish leaders.

The nine, aged between 19 and 38, are charged with membership of an illegal neo-Nazi terrorist group named Kameradschaft Süd, led by Martin Wiese, 28. They are alleged to have planned to blow up a community centre in Munich during a ceremony to inaugurate the building in November 2003.

State prosecutors said the attack would have been devastating. Those at the centre's opening ceremony included Paul Spiegel, the head of Germany's Central Council of Jews, and Edmund Stoiber, the Bavarian prime minister and a former candidate for the chancellorship of Germany. The trial began in November last year with the accused protesting their innocence. But yesterday the defendants David Schultz and Alexander Maetzing admitted all the charges against them in statements read out by their lawyers in court.

"After thinking seriously about the charges I want to come clean," Schultz said in a statement in which he confessed to knowing and approving of the planned attack.

Maetzing added: "All of us accepted that the material [explosives] would be used. I was prepared to use violence." He added: "But I have now come to terms with my past and I deeply regret everything. Violence cannot be a solution."

The defendants' confessions were expected seriously to undermine the case for the defence of Mr Wiese and the other accused. Their lawyers had argued that because much of the evidence had been brought by a secret police mole who had infiltrated the Kameradschaft Süd, it was inadmissible. They said the "mole" had acted as an agent provocateur.

The secret agent's evidence prompted a nationwide police operation in late 2003. Fourteen kilograms of explosives, including 1.7 kilograms of TNT, were found in a flat belonging to one of the group's members. Police also found hand grenades, pistols and a hit-list of targets that included journalists and senior politicians. Other evidence suggested one of the group's woman members had offered to commit the planned Munich attack as a suicide bomber.

The accused face up to 15 years imprisonment if convicted. The trial is expected to reveal whether the group was linked to the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party, which won seats in the east German state of Saxony last autumn.

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