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One of the eight accused members of Germany's extremist Reichsbuerger group, who are on trial in a hearing in Munich, Germany on Tuesday, covers his face inside the courtroom. The group is suspected of a plot to overthrow the government. REUTERS

Eight individuals believed to be associated with the far-right Reichsburger movement in Germany are set to stand trial for allegedly planning a violent uprising against the government, as part of a series of similar cases taking place throughout the country.

The accused individuals, among them a doctor, a well-known chef, and an astrologer, are alleged to have played key roles as the leaders of the plot.

Prosecutors claim they intended to form a new cabinet if the group's plan to seize the Parliament and topple the existing government had been successful.

The defendants face charges of belonging to a terrorist group and conspiring to commit an act of treason.

According to prosecutors, the group had detailed arrangements to abduct Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and showcase him on television as a strategy to attract support for their movement.

The defendants reject the charges made against them.

The Munich trial occurs under tight security measures as Germany grapples with concerns over the growing influence of the far right, particularly in the wake of its recent gains in European elections, reported The Guardian newspaper.

At the core of the purported conspiracy is Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss, a self-proclaimed aristocrat and real estate agent whom the group planned to name as its temporary leader. He is currently facing trial in Frankfurt along with other individuals believed to be key figures in the operation.

Defense lawyers reject the characterization of the accused as terrorists, asserting instead that they were individuals drawn together by their shared beliefs as conspiracy theorists who opposed COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Legal representatives for Prince Reuss have stated that he refutes any claims of violence or involvement in plots to harm others.

The alleged conspiracy came to light through anti-terror operations conducted in 11 German states and abroad in December 2022 following an undercover police inquiry.

Held at a heavily guarded court in Munich, the trial of the group's so-called esoteric faction, along with two others in Stuttgart, referred to as the military branch, and Frankfurt am Main, purportedly the core organizers, is set to extend until January but may, according to prosecutors, span over several years.

"We have around 900 files of information and every day more and more pages are being added to them," Laurent Lafleur, a spokesperson for the court, said.

The investigation is continuing alongside the ongoing trials, with every defendant having two defense lawyers representing them, Lafleur explained.

With the group's cases spread across three different venues, judges, prosecutors and lawyers from all trials involving a total of 26 defendants are reportedly involved in a frenetic exchange of information. Defendants from each trial are likely to appear in the other trials to provide testimony, contributing to a significant organizational challenge.

"It is a huge logistical effort," Lafleur said. He added that the court was ready for any potential disruptions, "whether from Reichsbürger or Querdenker, who might visit the trial", alluding to the Querdenker movement known for opposing COVID-19 measures.

It is estimated that 23,000 individuals are aligned with the Reichsburger movement in Germany, with roughly 10 percent considered willing to deploy violence, and an estimated 1,000 of this group associated with the right-wing extremist sphere.

The Reichsburger group is a collection of conspiracy theorists who deny the legitimacy of Germany's Federal Republic established post-WWII. Emerging in the 1980s, this movement includes organized factions and individuals across Germany with varying levels of opposition to governmental institutions.

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