Germany bracing for 'second wave of arrests' in far-right 'coup plot' case

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By Euronews  with Reuters
d right, is escorted from a police helicopter by police officers after the arrival in Karlsruhe, Germany, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022.
d right, is escorted from a police helicopter by police officers after the arrival in Karlsruhe, Germany, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo

German authorities expect further raids and arrests in connection with an alleged plot to storm the parliament in Berlin and overthrow the government.

Prosecutors say a far right-group wanted to install a member of a German aristocratic family as the new head of state and arrested 25 people Wednesday in raids across the country. 

"Based on my experience, there is usually a second wave of arrests," said Georg Maier, the interior minister of the eastern German state of Thuringia, told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Thursday.

Holger Münch, head of the federal police office, said in a Thursday interview with ARD that there are now 54 suspects in the case, and the number could rise further. 

"We have identified further people where we are not sure yet what their status is in connection with this group," he said.

Three thousand police officers were involved in raids at locations across Germany on Wednesday -- including at army barracks and a castle where ringleader Prince Heinrich XIII reportedly lived with his Russian girlfriend -- and found equipment ranging from protective vests to crossbows, rifles and ammunition, Münch said. 

He also explained that the group had plans to build up a "homeland protection command," and had started recruiting. 

"We have a dangerous mixture of people who are following irrational convictions, some with a lot of money, others in possession of weapons and a plan to launch attacks and expand their structure," Münch explained. 

Thuringia minister Maier singled out the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which is in the state parliament, for becoming an interface for right-wing extremists and spreading what he called fantasies about toppling the state.

"People are scared, and the AfD takes advantage of that and offers simple solutions," said Maier.

The AfD issued a statement on Wednesday and condemned the far-right group's efforts and expressed confidence in the authorities' ability to bring clarity to the situation quickly and completely.