Nearly 34 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the public prosecutor’s office in the German capital has indicted a former employee of the General Security Service (Stasi). The 79-year-old suspect is said to have shot a Polish man in 1974 at a border crossing between East Berlin and West Berlin.
What was the Stasi?
The Ministry of State Security (Stasi) is the internal security and intelligence service of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), also called East Germany.
According to the Berlin Prosecutor’s Office, the 31-year-old suspect from Leipzig belongs to an operational group of the Ministry of State Security. He is said to have been instructed to “neutralize” the 38-year-old Pole. He is said to have previously tried to force him to travel to West Berlin at the Polish embassy. The Stasi then reportedly decided to allow the man to leave the country. At that time, residents of the Eastern Bloc needed permission to travel to the West.
The Pole is said to have obtained the necessary travel documents and was accompanied by ministry staff to the border crossing at Friedrichstrasse station in Berlin. A Public Prosecution spokesman said that when he passed the last checkpoint there on March 29, 1974, the suspect shot him “with a well-aimed bullet in the back from a hiding place.”
Initially, the crime was registered as manslaughter. In this case, the crime will lapse by the statute of limitations. However, the Berlin prosecutor’s office believes the crime meets the criterion of malice or treason, meaning it rises to the level of murder.
Before the former Stasi employee can be tried in the Berlin Regional Court, it must be determined whether the charges will be allowed. The court must therefore follow the arguments of the prosecutor’s office and see sufficient evidence to suspect murder.
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