Alleged Leaders of 2022 Coup in Germany Go on Trial

( – Germany has begun the trial that will determine the fate of more than a dozen people accused of plotting a coup to overthrow the government.

The defendants number 26 in total – there were 27 initially, but one passed away before the trial started – all of whom are affiliated with the far-right. These include Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss, who is a member of Germany’s royalty; as well as Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, a former legislator and member of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany political party. Several former German military officers are also among the accused. The coup plot, which prosecutors say was hatched in 2022 and masterminded by Reuss and former paratrooper Rüdiger von Pescatore, was designed to have the prince assume the role of head of state if the rebellion was successful. Another defendant is a Russian woman accused of acting as an intermediary for the group to contact Russian officials, from whom the plotters attempted to solicit support for their coup.

The defendants are being accused of “doing away by force with the existing state order in Germany,” as well as “preparation of high treasonous undertaking.” Prosecutors further allege that the group amassed around 380 firearms on top of 350 stabbing weapons, and had access to funding amounting to half a million euros (approximately $540,000). The coup plotters also allegedly put together a list of targets comprised of regional and local officials, all of whom prosecutors say the defendants and their co-conspirators were prepared to kill if they did not cooperate. The accused also allegedly planned to storm Germany’s parliament building in Berlin and arrest lawmakers there.

The trial is being held at a special courthouse outside of Frankfurt. The structure was especially constructed for the trial, in order to accommodate the number of accused, as well as the legal counsel involved in the trial along with members of the press corps covering the proceedings. The trial is expected to be a drawn-out affair that will last well into the next year. In terms of witnesses alone, roughly 260 people are expected to take the stand to testify.

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