German far-right terror group sentenced to long prison terms

BERLIN (AP) — A German court on Wednesday sentenced eight Germans to between four and ten years in prison for forming a far-right terrorist organization, attempted murder and carrying out bomb attacks on asylum-seeker facilities and left-wing political targets.

The Dresden regional court said in its verdict all seven men and one woman, aged between 20 and 40, were guilty of forming the so-called terrorist “Freital Group,” named after a Dresden suburb that has seen a number of anti-refugee protests and attacks.

German news agency dpa reported that the group’s two ringleaders, 29-year-old Timo S. and 26-year-old Patrick F., were sentenced to 10 and nine-and-a-half years in prison, respectively. Their full names were withheld in line with German privacy rules.

The group carried out several attacks in 2015, including blowing up the car of a Left party politician and a Left party office in Freital, as well as two bombings of refugee homes in which windows were blown out and one asylum-seeker suffered facial cuts.

The court considered it proven that the defendants, who have all been in custody since April 2016, used powerful firecrackers from the Czech Republic that are banned in Germany to make pipe bombs and other improvised explosive devices, prosecutors said.

The only woman in the group, 29-year-old Maria K., was sentenced to five-and-a-half years; the youngest member of the group, Justin S., who was 18 years old when he committed the crimes, was sentenced to four years in prison. The other four defendants were sentenced to between five and eight years. The defendants can appeal the verdict.

The ruling on the Freital Group is the most high-profile case involving right-wing extremists since the case of the National Socialist Underground, a neo-Nazi group suspected of killing eight Turkish people, a Greek national and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007.

The only suspected survivor of the National Socialist Underground group, Beate Zschaepe, has been on trial since May 2013. A verdict is expected in the coming months.

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