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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 November, 2004, 22:00 GMT
Neo-Nazi bomb plot trial opens
Martin Wiese
Wiese faces charges of being a ringleader of a terrorist group
A German neo-Nazi has gone on trial in Munich, accused of plotting to bomb a Jewish centre in the city last year.

Martin Wiese, 28, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of leading a terrorist organisation and other weapons charges.

He is alleged to have led a plan to bomb the opening ceremony of a new Jewish centre last November.

However, Mr Wiese's defence argues that he was framed by the German security services and is innocent.

Three other men also went on trial on Wednesday, on allegations they were part of the inner circle of Mr Wiese's right-wing, Munich-based Southern Comrades group.

They face a possible 10 years behind bars if convicted on terrorism and weapons charges.

'Kristallnacht' anniversary

Prosecutors allege Mr Wiese planned to blow up a laying of foundations ceremony at the Jewish centre on 9 November, 2003.

The ceremony was attended by the German president and the cream of the country's Jewish establishment.

They allege Mr Wiese's group plotted to use Munich's sewer system to gain access to the site.

But the attack was foiled in September, two months before it was due to take place.

Police seized 14 kilograms of explosives as well as hand grenades, pistols and far-right propaganda material during raids.

The 9 November date is significant as it would have been the 65th anniversary of the 'Kristallnacht' pogrom, when Nazis attacked and torched thousands of Jewish businesses and synagogues.

Taking the stand on Wednesday, Mr Wiese's alleged accomplice Alexander Maetzing denied an attack was planned.

"We talked about a lot but there was no plan to do anything concrete," said the 28-year-old carpenter.

'Thin' evidence

Mr Wiese has said a government agent posing as a member of the group was the real instigator of the plot.

His solicitor, Anja Seul, said her client would not answer any questions during the trial, and declared his innocence.

"The evidence is thin," she said going into court.

The prosecution allege the group's long-term aim was to overturn democracy.

"The organisation's aim was to work toward a regime modelled on the National Socialist dictatorship from 1933 to 1945," federal prosecutor Bernd Steudl told the court.

Five others alleged to be involved with the group went on trial separately in October. That process is still underway.

Mr Wiese's trial is expected to last until March next year.


SEE ALSO:
German raids target neo-Nazis
28 Oct 03 |  Europe



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