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Trial against Germans accused of attacking refugee homes starts
March 7, 2017 / 4:31 PM / in 7 months

Trial against Germans accused of attacking refugee homes starts

Defendant Justin S. arrives at a courtroom in Dresden, Germany, March 7, 2017, at the start of a trial against the far-right group "Gruppe Freital". REUTERS/Sebastian Kahnert/Pool

DRESDEN, Germany (Reuters) - Eight Germans accused of forming a right-wing terrorist group that attacked refugee homes and an alternative housing project as well as an office and car belonging to the far-left Linke party went on trial in Dresden on Tuesday.

Prosecutors say the seven men and one woman, aged between 19 and 38, formed a terrorist group called “Gruppe Freital” which carried out five attacks, including two on refugee homes.

The group is named after a town about 8 kilometres from the city of Dresden in eastern Germany, where anti-immigrant sentiment runs high.

In one attack, prosecutors say the suspects set off explosive devices at three windows of a home for refugees, aware that there were several people inside. One of the residents suffered cuts from glass splinters and an eye injury but three others were able to get to safety in the corridor.

“The chief federal prosecutor accuses the suspects of being members of a terrorist organisation,” the prosecutor’s spokesman Joern Hauschild said.

Defendant Mike S. arrives at a courtroom in Dresden, Germany, March 7, 2017, at the start of a trial against the far-right group "Gruppe Freital". REUTERS/Sebastian Kahnert/Pool

“We’re talking about homicides and offences involving explosives. Furthermore, the chief federal prosecutor accuses the suspects of other crimes: five offences involving explosives and in one case the charge is attempted murder.”

More than a million migrants have arrived in Germany since early 2015, prompting concerns about security and integration and boosting support for anti-immigrant groups.

Data from the Interior Ministry shows attacks on refugee homes occurred more than twice a day on average last year.

Prosecutors said the group on trial obtained a large quantity of pyrotechnic explosives from the Czech Republic that are illegal in Germany and in September 2015 began to research building pipe bombs.

The trial is due to last about 60 days and a verdict is expected at the end of September.

Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Catherine Evans

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