Germany busts ‘terrorist organization’ that planned attacks on Muslims, refugees

The government has said around 90% of the 1,800 incidents recorded against Jews last year were committed by individuals espousing far-right views. (File/AFP)
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Updated 14 February 2020

Germany busts ‘terrorist organization’ that planned attacks on Muslims, refugees

  • The suspects wanted their attacks to create havoc and an atmosphere of fear that resembles a civil war
  • The German government last year launched a crackdown on right-wing political violence in response to a rise in hate crimes

BERLIN: German police detained 12 men on Friday suspected of setting up a far-right organization with the goal of carrying out attacks against politicians, asylum seekers and Muslims, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office (GBA) said.
Prosecutors said four of the suspects had set up a “terrorist organization” in September 2019 and regularly met and contacted each other by phone and in online chart forums and chat groups. They had no immediate plan to carry out an attack.
The other eight men were detained on suspicion of supporting the organization with money and weapons, the GBA said.
The suspects wanted their attacks to create havoc and an atmosphere of fear that resembles a civil war, it added.
“The goal of the organization was to shake and eventually destroy the democratic system and social cohesion of the federal republic,” the GBA said. “For the purpose of creating an conditions that resemble a civil war, attacks that were not yet concrete against politicians, asylum seekers and members of the Muslim faith were planned.”
The German government last year launched a crackdown on right-wing political violence in response to a rise in hate crimes.
New measures approved after the killing of a pro-immigration politician and a deadly attack on a synagogue and kebab shop in Halle by an anti-Semitic gunman include tougher rules on gun ownership and stricter monitoring of hate speech online.
The government has said around 90% of the 1,800 incidents recorded against Jews last year were committed by individuals espousing far-right views.
Germany’s domestic intelligence agency estimates there are around 24,100 “right wing extremists” in Germany, about half of whom are potentially violent.


Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sexual assault, rape

Updated 8 min 54 sec ago

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sexual assault, rape

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault and rape by a New York jury
  • He was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013

NEW YORK: Harvey Weinstein was convicted Monday of sexual assault and rape but cleared of the most serious predatory sexual assault charges, a partial victory for the #MeToo movement that sparked a cascade of allegations against the disgraced Hollywood mogul.
The jury of seven men and five women found the producer guilty of criminal sexual acts in the first degree and rape in the third degree, a measure of vindication for the dozens of women who came out against the one-time all-powerful filmmaker.
However, the 67-year-old Oscar-winner who produced films including "Shakespeare In Love" was found not guilty of first-degree rape and predatory sexual assault charges that could have seen him jailed for life.
The Time's Up foundation, formed in the wake of the Weinstein case, hailed the verdict as marking "a new era of justice."
"Abusers everywhere and the powerful forces that protect them should be on notice: There's no going back," it said in a statement.
The limited win for #MeToo presents the most high-profile sex assault conviction in the United States since Bill Cosby was found guilty in 2018 of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman 15 years ago.
The decision was announced in a packed New York courtroom where some 100 people had gathered. The defendant, who attended the trial hunched over a walker, was shielded from view by police officers.
More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct since allegations against him ignited the #MeToo global reckoning against men abusing positions of power in October 2017.
But the jury considered charges related to just two: ex-actress Jessica Mann and former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, with many claims too old to prosecute.
One of the predatory sexual assault charges also included testimony from "The Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein raped her in her New York apartment in the winter of 1993-94.
Six women took the stand from the opening of testimony on January 22, to say they had been sexually assaulted by Weinstein.
Weinstein's team subjected the women to ferocious cross-examination, as they argued that his relationships were consensual and transactional.
The prosecution cast Weinstein as a conniving predator who demanded sex in exchange for access to a film universe where he was king, but presented no forensic evidence or witness accounts.
The state's case instead rested on asking the jury to believe the women.
Weinstein, who has always said his sexual relations were consensual, was charged with raping former actress Mann in the DoubleTree hotel in midtown Manhattan in 2013.
He was also charged with forcing oral sex on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his New York apartment in July 2006 while she was on her period.
Mann and Young both testified that Weinstein's genitals appeared deformed, during graphic and at times uncomfortable testimony, as the prosecution showed jurors nude photos of Weinstein to corroborate their accounts.
The charges of predatory sexual assault, a serious sex crime committed against more than one person, were the most serious and carried a sentence of life in prison.
For the jury to convict Weinstein of that they would have had to believe either Mann or Haleyi plus Sciorra.
Sciorra's allegation was too old to be prosecuted as an individual crime but she was included in the indictment to bolster the predatory sexual assault charge.
Ex-model Lauren Young also told the court that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in the bathroom of a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2013 when she was a 22-year-old aspiring actress.
Judge Burke dismissed the jury just after noon Monday, thanking them for their "care" and "attention."
Eyes now turn to Los Angeles, where Young's allegations form part of a separate sex crimes investigation against Weinstein being carried out by prosecutors in the California city.
Los Angeles prosecutors accuse him of raping an Italian model in February 2013 and of assaulting Young the following night.