Two former German soldiers went on trial on Thursday for trying to form a paramilitary group to fight in Yemen's civil war after being inspired by a psychic.
Achim Allweyer, 52, and Arend-Adolf Graess, 60, attempted to set up a "terrorist organisation" after receiving "messages from a fortune teller that they understood as binding instructions for action", according to prosecutors.
Starting in early 2021, the two men are accused of trying to "create a paramilitary unit of 100 to 150 men" composed of former members of the German special forces whose aim would be "to intervene in the civil war in Yemen".
A Saudi-led coalition has for years been fighting against so-called Huthi rebels in Yemen, who are in turn supported by Iran.
The two suspects had wanted their unit to help bring peace in Yemen by pushing for negotiations between the Huthi rebels and the Yemeni government, according to the prosecutors.
But both suspects were "aware that the unit they were to command would inevitably have to carry out acts of killing during their mission" and also expected civilians to be killed and injured, the prosecutors said.
The pair had allegedly been hoping to secure funds from Saudi Arabia for the project and were intending to pay members a monthly wage of 40,000 euros ($46,000) each.
Allweyer is accused of contacting representatives of the Saudi Arabian government, but prosecutors say he failed to get a response.
Graess, meanwhile, is said to have been responsible for recruitment and had allegedly contacted at least eight people.
Looking sullen, Graess -- a stocky man with a bald head -- told the court he was happy to testify but did not want to give any personal information.
Allweyer, meanwhile, was more than happy to talk about his personal background, telling the court how he gave lectures on counterterrorism after retiring from the Bundeswehr.
Wearing a blue shirt, he also spoke about his travels to Syria, Iraq and Somalia, and how he founded his own association whose aim was "to stabilise destabilised states".
"I wanted to shape big politics," he said.
Referring to the testimony of a witness whom the men wanted to recruit as a logistician, prosecutor Verena Simon said Allweyer and Graess had planned to starve out an area in Yemen and cut off its water supply.
They also planned to contaminate an entire area with gas to bring it under their control, she said.
As well as being inspired by the fortune teller, prosecutors believe the men were motivated by fundamentalist Christian beliefs.
Allweyer and Graess were arrested by special forces in October and have since remained in custody.
The men face up to 10 years in jail if found guilty.
However, judge Stefan Maier said it was likely they would receive only suspended sentences as the plans had failed at an early stage and they both had no criminal record.
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