TERRORISM

4 convicted of forming German far-right terrorist group

The defendant Markus W. stands in the courtroom of the Higher Regional Court in Munich, Germany, Wednesday, March 15 2017, accused of planning a terror attack on a refugee shelter using explosives. The defendant an alleged member of the extremist far-right terror group known as as the 'Oldschool Society.'  (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

The defendant Markus W. stands in the courtroom of the Higher Regional Court in Munich, Germany, Wednesday, March 15 2017, accused of planning a terror attack on a refugee shelter using explosives. The defendant an alleged member of the extremist far-right terror group known as as the 'Oldschool Society.' (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

Three men and a woman were sentenced to prison terms between three and five years Wednesday for forming a far-right terrorist group in Germany with a plan to bomb refugee homes as a tactic to scare migrants into leaving the country.

The Munich state court ruled that the four founded the so-called Oldschool Society in August 2014. The group grew to have about 30 members with plans to commit attacks on foreigners and refugee homes because of their racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim beliefs, the court said.

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Judge Reinhold Baier said in his verdict that the group wanted to drive refugees out of Germany even if it meant killing people to do so, the German news agency dpa reported.

Germany's top security official, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, applauded the verdict, saying it showed authorities are "acting decisively against any form of terrorism."

"The verdict today shows that the state is determined and vigilant in the fight against right-wing extremism and far-right terrorism," he said.

The group had planned to attack a refugee shelter in the Saxon town of Borna in May 2015, but police had the group under surveillance and detained the four founding members shortly before they could carry out the plan.

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The head of the group, 58-year-old Andreas H., from the southern city of Augsburg, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.

Deputy leader Markus W., 41, received five years and his girlfriend, Denise G., 24, received three years and 10 months. Both are from the eastern state of Saxony.

Olaf O. from the western city of Bochum, the group's spokesman, was sentenced to three years. Last names were withheld in line with German privacy rules.

The four expressed their hatred for migrants on social media, mobile messaging and in a phone chat group. Denise G., who called herself "terror lady," expressed impatience during the conversations that attack plans were not developing fast enough, dpa reported.

In a separate conversation, Andreas H. and Merkus W. talked about how to build a nail bomb.

During raids on their homes, police found weapons, illegal explosives and nails. According to the court, Markus W. and Denise G. had bought the illegal explosives in the Czech Republic just days before the planned attack in Borna.

Germany has seen a sharp increase in attacks on asylum homes in the last two years amid an unprecedented influx of migrants seeking refuge in Germany from war, persecution and poverty.