Prosecutors in Koblenz and Rhineland-Palatinate’s state criminal police office said that raids were carried out at 20 properties across the country Wednesday following an investigation that was launched in October. The suspects were members of a chat group called “United Patriots,” they said.
Investigators said the suspects they identified were associated with the protest movement against coronavirus restrictions and with the Reich Citizens movement, which disputes the legitimacy of the post-World War II German constitution and, by extension, the current government. In all, 12 people are under investigation.
Investigators said in a statement that the group’s declared aim was to destroy Germany’s electricity supply facilities and cause a long blackout, with the goal of producing “conditions similar to civil war” and ultimately overthrowing the country’s democratic system.
The suspects, all German citizens, are accused of preparing a serious act of violence and of violating weapons laws.
The group also allegedly planned to kidnap well-known public figures. Investigators said those included Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, the German news agency dpa reported.
Lauterbach told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that some COVID-19 deniers are “fighting against our democratic order” rather than vaccinations or restrictions.
“But they won’t succeed in that. I won’t let myself be put off and will continue to stand up for the whole population,” he said.
Investigators seized 22 firearms, including a Kalashnikov rifle, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, thousands of euros in cash, and numerous gold bars and silver coins.
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