Frankfurt / Main (dpa) – His statement was eagerly awaited: the terrorist-suspected Bundeswehr officer Franco A. again claimed on Tuesday that he never intended to harm anyone.
He also admitted to the higher regional court of Frankfurt am Main that he had applied for asylum under a false name. The accused declined to comment on the main allegation that he planned attacks on politicians out of far-right sentiments.
The federal prosecutor’s office has accused the 32-year-old of having acquired a false identity as a Syrian refugee in order to portray the planned attacks as terrorist attacks by a recognized asylum seeker – thus shaking confidence in the asylum policy.
A. was arrested in Vienna in February 2017 while attempting to obtain a gun from a hideout in an airport toilet. When comparing the fingerprints, it turned out that the professional soldier was also registered as an alleged asylum seeker. Among other things, he found a USB stick on which instructions for making explosives were stored.
A. stated in interviews that this material was intended for training in the armed forces. The officer had also told media representatives that he hoarded ammunition to prepare for the Islamic attacks he feared. He found the gun in Vienna and only realized at the airport that he still had it with him – so he quickly hid it in a cleaning closet in a toilet. Later he wanted to collect them and hand them over to the authorities.
In court on Tuesday, the defendant explained in detail why he had impersonated a French-speaking Christian refugee from Syria who lost his passport while on the run. A. read numerous political quotes from his laptop in court to support his view of political failure in connection with the refugee crisis. “I am sincerely sorry” that he ignored applicable law during his double life, the defendant said. But he wanted to know what was going on locally.
The presiding judge Christoph Koller interrupted the statements by suggesting that first clarify those facts that the accused did not deny. A. told how at the end of 2015 he presented himself as David Benjamin in the asylum center in his hometown Offenbach to apply for asylum. His path took him past several stations to a Bavarian farmhouse converted into accommodation. He was only there sporadically to organize his double life. At several hearings, it was not noted that the alleged refugee was a German citizen. It took about a year for the asylum procedure to be completed.
A chief investigator of the Federal Criminal Investigation Department (BKA) gave an overview of the police investigations in the case. He reported chats on the suspect’s cell phone about weapons, witnesses asking A. about weapons, buying weapons parts from an arms dealer, and shooting practice.
The court wants to testify on Friday. Since the defendant isn’t going on more points than he hoped, this should be big, Koller said. So it will be a very long ordeal.