BERLIN (AP) — Eight Germans went on trial Tuesday in the city of Dresden for allegedly forming a neo-Nazi terrorist organization and carrying out bombing attacks on asylum-seeker facilities and left-wing political targets.
Prosecutors have accused the defendants — seven men and one woman between the ages of 19 and 39 — of forming the “Freital Group,” named after a Dresden suburb that has seen a number of anti-refugee protests and attacks.
The group is alleged to have carried out several attacks, including blowing up the car of a Left party politician and a Left party office in Freital, as well the two bombings of refugee homes in which windows were blown out and one asylum-seeker suffered facial cuts.
The suspects, who all have been in custody since April 2016, also are suspected of using powerful firecrackers from the Czech Republic that are banned in Germany to make pipe bombs and other improvised explosive devices, prosecutors said.
Federal prosecutor Joern Hauschild said the defendants had sought to “unnerve the population” and create a climate of fear with their attacks between July and November 2015, the dpa news agency reported.
The defendants were identified as Timo S., 27; Patrick F., 25; Philipp W., 29; Justin S., 19; Maria K., 28; Mike S., 38; Sebastian W., 26; and Rico K., 38. Their last names were withheld in line with German privacy laws.
Prosecutors say Timo S. and Patrick F. played a “central leadership role” in the organization, responsible for the planning and organization of the attacks. In addition to terrorism charges, seven of the suspects were charged with attempted murder, while Mike S. was charged with accessory to attempted murder.
They also face various explosives-related charges.
The Freital Group’s trial is the most high-profile involving neo-Nazi extremists since the case of the National Socialist Underground, a group suspected of killing eight Turkish people, a Greek national and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007.
Suspected National Socialist Underground member Beate Zschaepe has been on trial since May 2013. The presiding judge in her case said Tuesday that lawyers have until March 14 to submit motions for new evidence.
The move indicates that a verdict may be issued in the coming months.