Plea in the trial of Franco A.: A terrorist, not a seeker of meaning

Plea in the trial of Franco A.: A terrorist, not a seeker of meaning

The Bundeswehr officer has been on trial for terrorism allegations for a year. The federal prosecutor is asking for six years and three months in prison.

Franco A. with a beard and braids speaks to journalists

The accused Franco A. speaks to journalists before the trial begins on June 20, 2022 Photo: Andreas Arnold/picture alliance

FRANKFURT AM MAIN taz | At the beginning, the representative of the federal prosecutor expresses herself in a rather colloquial manner. “High Senate, gentlemen defense attorneys,” says prosecutor Karin Weingast, “if we weren’t in a courtroom, I would simply call the accused a liar and a fraud.” Franco As Statements are not credible, the evidence has shown sufficiently.

Right at the beginning, Weingast cites some proven false statements in order to show that As’s assurances that he is a peaceful seeker of meaning should not be believed either. Rather, the 33-year-old is a right-wing extremist terrorist who had made the firm decision to commit an attack against politicians or other public figures out of a nationalist and anti-Semitic sentiment. The federal prosecutor sees the “preparation of a serious act of violence that is dangerous to the state” as proven, as well as violations of the War Weapons Control Act and the Explosives Act as well as fraud. The demand of the prosecution: six years and three months imprisonment.

Since May 2021, the State Protection Senate of the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt am Main has been hearing this case, which has caused a stir since it was exposed in 2017. The Bundeswehr officer Franco A. has led a double identity as a Syrian refugee for more than a year and procured weapons and ammunition, including a G3 automatic rifle. He also networked with other preppers in the Hannibal network during this time. He was busted because he wanted to take a loaded pistol out of a hiding place at Vienna Airport. “The allegations have been fully confirmed,” says prosecutor Weingast. The fact that Franco A. hasn’t been able to harm anyone to this day is solely due to a happy coincidence and the investigative work.

No explanation for the gun

Weingast reads the plea. Franco A. told “abstruse stories” about the origin of his weapons and ammunition, she says. The federal prosecutor sees it as proven that Franco A. had bought the pistol from Vienna Airport in Paris six months earlier. This is indicated by a chain of evidence, above all the model designation “Rr” in his smartphone calendar, for which there is no other explanation. Franco A., on the other hand, claimed that he found the gun while peeing in the bushes. He did not seriously uphold this story in court, but did not offer any other explanation. Franco A. admitted the possession of the other weapons in court. He claims they were obtained for defense in the event of a Russian attack or a civil war.

In her plea, the representative of the federal prosecutor spends 20 minutes Franco A’s attitude to portray. She emphasizes that this as such is not punishable. But she was “the mainspring of his planned attack”. She cites statements such as “migration means genocide”, “Zionism as the root of evil” and “Hitler is above everything”. Based on his ideology, Franco A. wanted to set a “politically effective sign” “against the construct of the state, whose laws are null and void”. The federal prosecutor is convinced that it was no longer a question of whether he wanted to commit an attack, but rather how.

The prosecutor cites many notes and voice memos as evidence. A piece of paper said: make a Molotov cocktail, hand grenade, blow up the Rothschildt stone in Frankfurt. It is true that Franco A. wanted to carry out his attacks under the identity of a refugee, but in the end that is not decisive. The decisive factor is that his violence should not be directed against things, but against people. And in the case of Anetta Kahane, the then chairwoman of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, he had already spied on a suspected victim. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office also rates Franco A’s “partial silence on unresolved questions” as incriminating.

Beyond the court, Franco A. would be called a “liar and a cheat,” says the prosecutor

Franco A. follows the plea motionless in a burgundy shirt, he looks down. He has been in prison again since February after was caught with Nazi memorabilia. The defense’s plea is scheduled for Friday. The verdict is due on July 5.

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