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Soldiers of fortune

Trial starts for 2 Germans ‘ordered by psychic’ to fight in Yemen

Prosecutors say Achim Allweyer and Arend-Adolf Graess sought to form ‘terrorist organization’ composed of former members of German special forces in order to bring peace

File: In this photo taken on August 30, 2019 A fighter of the UAE-trained Security Belt Force, dominated by members of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) which seeks independence for south Yemen, walks with a separatist flag past an oil tanker set ablaze during clashes between the separatists and the Saudi-backed government forces at the Fayush-Alam crossroads on the eastern entrance Aden from the Abyan province in southern Yemen. (Nabil HASAN / AFP)
File: In this photo taken on August 30, 2019 A fighter of the UAE-trained Security Belt Force, dominated by members of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) which seeks independence for south Yemen, walks with a separatist flag past an oil tanker set ablaze during clashes between the separatists and the Saudi-backed government forces at the Fayush-Alam crossroads on the eastern entrance Aden from the Abyan province in southern Yemen. (Nabil HASAN / AFP)

STUTTGART, Germany — Two former German soldiers went on trial on Thursday accused of taking steps 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 the “terrorist organization” after receiving “messages from a fortuneteller 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 Houthi 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 Houthi 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 the prosecutors said he failed to get a response.

Allweyer and Graess were arrested by special forces in October and have since remained in custody.

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