Seven the first sentence has it all. “If we weren’t in a courtroom, I would call the accused a liar and a fraud,” the federal prosecutor began her plea on Monday. Shortly thereafter, she described Franco A. as a right-wing terrorist who tried to use the trial as a stage and missed no opportunity to bend the truth. Who always tried to create “alternative facts”, who told abstruse stories and twisted when he was caught.
“Smoke candles, evasive maneuvers, memory gaps”: With these words, the federal prosecutor summarized A’s behavior in the trial at the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt. Almost three hours later, her plea ended with the demand that the lieutenant in the Bundeswehr be sentenced to a total of six years and three months in prison.
“Hitler is above everything”
In the trial against the officer suspected of terror, which has been ongoing since May 2021, the federal prosecutors have come to the conclusion that he has committed a criminal offense in preparing for a serious act of violence that is dangerous to the state. In addition, violations of the Weapons Act, the War Weapons Control Act and the Explosives Act as well as fraud. Franco A., he admitted, posed as a refugee from Syria of Christian faith by the name of “David Benjamin” and successfully went through the asylum procedure. The authorities granted him subsidiary protection and he paid back the benefits he received.
Did he want to attack politicians and public figures disguised as a refugee? Whether as a refugee or not is not decisive, said the federal prosecutor. The prosecutors have no doubt that A. wanted to murder in the spirit of a nationalist, racist, right-wing extremist and anti-Semitic ideology. The prosecutor quoted the accused: “Immigration is genocide”, “Zionism is the root of evil”, “Hitler is above everything”. Although the attitude of the accused is not punishable, it was the mainspring of the terrorist attack that he had planned.
Coincidence and good police work
His actions, records and conduct in court show that he was determined to do so. It was due to coincidence and good police work that he did not harm anyone. A. wanted to set “a politically effective sign” with an attack. By 2019, according to his notes, he wanted to “save Germany” and “free the world from its yoke”. The prosecutors are convinced: A. believed in the “annihilation of the German race” through immigration and through “mixed marriages”; Jews were responsible, controlled by the USA. Voice memos in which he described the mixing of cultures as a threat to the “German people” completed the picture. In addition, “Mein Kampf” in the basement and the Nazi memorabilia that he brought from Strasbourg in the final phase of the trial.
The federal prosecutor said that Franco A. had long since left the question of whether he should carry out an attack on people responsible in his eyes for the imminent demise of Germany – Claudia Roth, Heiko Maas, the human rights activist Anetta Kahane -. Only the how was left open. He procured weapons and accessories such as a telescopic sight, practiced at the shooting range, scouted out addresses, photographed Kahane’s car in the underground car park. He stole some of his hoarded ammunition and explosive devices from the Bundeswehr stocks, and if, as he stated, he wanted to stock up on weapons and barter goods for fear of a third world war, then he could have applied for a gun license instead of going illegal and risking his professional future.
He wrote about infiltrating key positions, “tearing up the whole system”. “Words are no longer enough.” On a to-do list he noted: “Build Molotov cocktails”, “Blow up the Rothschildstein”, “Hand grenades”. He was convinced that the Germans had to be shown the truth with a “triggering event”. “Violence must be an option”, “Let’s not be afraid to kill”, it says in his notes. In the process, A. repeatedly incriminated himself tactically unwisely, but remained silent when there were incriminating questions. This also points to his guilt.
The trial continues on Friday with a defense plea and the defendant’s last word.