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CRIME

Far-right hunter jailed for life for killing policeman at his doorstep

A German far-right militant belonging to the shadowy "Citizens of the Reich" movement was sentenced to life in prison on Monday for killing a policeman during a dawn raid on his house.

Far-right hunter jailed for life for killing policeman at his doorstep
Wolfgang Plan in a Nuremberg court on Monday. Photo: DPA.

Wolfgang Plan, 50, was convicted by the regional court in the southern city of Nuremberg of murder in a case that sparked a nationwide crackdown on radical right-wing groups.

Plan, who referred to himself exclusively in the third person during the trial, smiled as he entered the courtroom wearing a dark suit. He sat impassively as the presiding judge read out the verdict.

He had denied intending to kill the 32-year-old officer during the trial, which started in August, as well as membership of the so-called Reichsbürger (Citizens of the Reich).

The group includes neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists and gun enthusiasts who reject the legitimacy of the modern German republic.

Plan told the court through his lawyer that he thought he was under attack when his house was stormed in the “amateurish” raid in October 2016, and had no idea he was firing at police.

One policeman was critically injured and later died of his wounds, while two others were injured in the confrontation in the town of Georgensgmuend.

As a result, Plan was also convicted on two counts of attempted murder. His defence attorneys had called for a verdict of manslaughter, with a significantly milder prison sentence.

Prosecutors argued Plan, a hunter who once ran a martial arts school, fired 11 shots “with the intention of causing as many deadly injuries as possible”.

The raid was aimed at seizing Plan's arsenal of about 30 weapons after his permits were rescinded following an assessment that he was psychologically “unsound”.

He had previously refused to pay taxes and handed in his official identity card.

'My word is law'

Reichsbürger followers generally believe in the continued existence of the pre-war German Reich or empire as it stood under the Nazis, and several groups have declared their own states.

They typically deny the legitimacy of police and other state institutions and refuse to pay taxes.

News agency DPA said Plan had established a pseudo-state on his property, drawing “borders” around it with yellow lines and hanging a sign reading “My word is law here”.

Bavaria state interior minister Joachim Herrmann said the court had handed down a “tough sentence that is appropriate for the brutality of the crime”.

Long dismissed as malcontents and oddballs, the Reichsbürger are seen as a growing threat after a string of violent incidents.

Since Plan's arrest, police have carried out a series of raids against suspected Reichbürger militants, seizing arms and making several arrests.

Security services believe some 15,000 people in Germany identify as Reichsbürger, some 900 of whom are known far-right extremists.

Two months before the deadly shooting in Bavaria, a then 41-year-old Reichsbürger and one-time “Mister Germany” pageant winner, Adrian Ursache, opened fire on police carrying out an eviction order at his house in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt.

The gunman was seriously wounded and three officers suffered light injuries.

After repeatedly disturbing the proceedings before the court in the city of Halle, he was barred from the courtroom last week. His trial will continue in his absence.

READ ALSO: What is Germany's extremist Reichsbürger movement?

CRIME

US man confesses to murder of tourist by famed Neuschwanstein castle

An American man accused of raping and killing a fellow US tourist near Bavaria's famed Neuschwanstein castle last year made a wide-ranging confession on the first day of his trial Monday.

US man confesses to murder of tourist by famed Neuschwanstein castle

Troy Philipp B. faces several charges including one count of murder over the death of the 21-year-old woman. He also stands accused of the attempted murder of the victim’s friend, also an American citizen.

“The accused committed the incomprehensible act,” his lawyer Philip Müller told the district court in the southern town of Kempten.

The two women, then 21 and 22 years old, had been hiking in the Neuschwanstein area in June last year when they met B., who offered to take them to a viewpoint, investigators said.

At a secluded spot, the man, then 30, allegedly pushed the 21-year-old woman to the ground and proceeded to rape and strangle her.

Her friend intervened, leading to a scuffle in which the accused allegedly pushed the 22-year-old off a steep slope.

The accused then continued his sexual assault of the 21-year-old woman, strangling her with a belt while filming the act.

Interrupted by hikers who stumbled on the crime, he pushed the rape victim down the same slope while she was unconscious.

When mountain rescue workers found the two women, the 22-year-old was injured but able to talk.

The rape victim was seriously injured and taken by helicopter to hospital, where she died later that night from her injuries.

READ ALSO: US tourist dies after assault at famed Bavarian castle

‘Deeply ashamed’

B.’s lawyer said the accused had not planned the attack in advance.

“He was aware that the victim could die without help, yet he still left her behind,” Müller told the court.

His client was “deeply ashamed” about his actions and wished to apologise to the victim’s family, the lawyer added.

B., who hails from the US state of Michigan, spoke only to confirm the accuracy of his lawyer’s statement to the court.

He is not expected to make any further comments during the trial, scheduled to run until March 13th.

Germany’s top-selling daily Bild reported that the rescue operation and his subsequent arrest took place in front of hundreds of tourists.

Built in the 19th century by King Ludwig II, Neuschwanstein castle is one of the most visited sites in Germany, attracting over a million visitors a year.

B. faces up to life in prison if convicted.

B. on Monday also confessed to possession of child pornography, which investigators uncovered as part of their probe into the attack.

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