Trio on trial in Berlin for communist arson attacks

26th September 2008, Comments 0 comments

The men denied they were part of a shadowy group setting fire to cars in the capital.

Berlin -- A trio of men denied in Berlin Thursday that they were a shadowy group that has set fire to numerous cars and trucks in the German capital to highlight its hatred of capitalism.

Security was tight at the state-security court as the defendants, aged 36 to 47, appeared on the first day of trial.

All three denied the charges of membership in a criminal organization -- the Militant Group (MG), which claimed responsibility for arson attacks on three German Army trucks last year.

Far left sympathizers demonstrated outside the court under close watch by police.

"The wrong people have been put in the dock," said one of the defendants, a 47-year-old special education teacher.

In a joint statement, the trio accused Germany's government of being based on "a policy of war."

While MG shares some of the radical communist views of Germany's urban terrorists of the 1970s, higher German courts have ruled that its acts cannot be termed as terrorist, because they have not caused death or injury.

MG, one of the most radical of Berlin's counterculture groups, seeks to topple existing social structures and to replace them with a communist world order.

In anonymous notes, it has claimed to have set fire to more than two dozen buildings and vehicles in the Berlin area since 2001. Copycat attacks on expensive sports utility vehicles, apparently by individuals, became rife last year.

Sven Lindemann, a lawyer for the defendants, unsuccessfully appealed for the charges to be dismissed Thursday.

He alleged that it was not a fair trial because he could not scrutinize secret police files and the court was manipulated by police.

The case focuses on incendiary attacks against three parked trucks in army colors in the city of Brandenburg during an upsurge of leftist militancy at the time of last summer's G8 meeting hosted by Germany.

Presiding judge, Josef Hoch, rejected a defense application to loosen security at the trial.


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