Germany arrests 75-year-old woman suspect in health minister 'kidnap plot'

Thursday, 13 October 2022 (17:59 IST)
German federal prosecutors announced on Thursday that police had arrested a woman suspected of involvement in a kidnapping plot involving the German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach.

The suspect, identified as Elisabeth R., was arrested in the eastern state of Saxony.

She is a suspected ringleader in the so-called Reichsbürger movement, which denies the existence of a modern German state.

Along with several accomplices, she sought to kidnap the health minister and disrupt power plants to cause a nationwide blackout, prosecutors allege. They believed this would create civil war-like conditions in a state whose existence the group already denies.

German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that "Lauterbach's kidnapping was supposed to be the prelude to a coup d'etat." The magazine added that the alleged plot involved the death of his bodyguards.

What we know about the 'kidnap plot'

Following the foiled kidnap plot back in April of this year, prosecutors said four other suspects had been detained.

The four were involved in groups that opposed restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic as well.

They were from Neustadt an der Weinstrasse in the Western Rhineland-Palatinate state, Falkensee near Berlin and from the districts of Ammerland Lower Saxony and Landshut in the southern state of Bavaria.

On Thursday, prosecutors claimed Elisabeth R. helped coordinate the group's plot and sought to procure weapons and explosives for use by her and her allies.

Federal prosecutors said, "This grouping had set itself the goal of creating civil war-like conditions in Germany and thus ultimately to overthrow the federal government and parliamentary democracy."

Elisabeth R. was scheduled to appear before a judge Thursday. The judge was to decide whether she should remain in custody while prosecutors file formal charges against her.

Her online writings are said to denounce the government, contain antisemitic statements and be laden with unproven and easily disprovable conspiracy theories.

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