Mother of Berlin Wall’s Last Victim Breaks Down in Court
BERLIN (AP) _ The mother of the Berlin Wall’s last shooting victim broke into tears Wednesday after magazines containing pictures of her son’s corpse were handed out to courtroom spectators.
Chief Judge Theodor Seidel said he was ″shocked″ by the graphic nature of the two magazine photos of Chris Gueffroy’s blood-stained body after his escape attempt from Communist East Germany. Seidel later fined a reporter for distributing the magazine in the courtroom.
Seidel is presiding over the trial of four former East German soldiers charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of Gueffroy on Feb. 5, 1989.
During daylong testimony, 26-year-old Ingo Heinrich joined his other three defendants in insisting he had not fired the shot that killed the young waiter.
The trial is being closely watched as a precedent for other cases stemming from the deaths of more than 200 East Germans killed while trying to flee to the West.
Many Germans have criticized the proceedings, saying the Communist bosses should be put on trial first for issuing the shoot-to-kill orders.
On Wednesday morning, a reporter for the Super Illu magazine handed out copies of the latest issue to reporters and spectators in and outside the courtroom.
Two of the pictures from the magazine, which normally features crime stories and sex, showed Gueffroy in a morgue.
Karin Gueffroy, the victim’s mother, caught sight of the photos and broke into tears. Ms. Gueffroy, who had been taking part in the proceedings as a co- prosecutor, left the courtroom and did not return.
During the afternoon session, the judge called the Super Illu reporter to the front of the courtroom and fined him $1,200 for handing out the magazine.
Chief prosecutor Herwig Grossman said ″the necessary steps would be undertaken″ to see whether publication of the photographs broke German law. The pictures apparently were taken from official investigation files.
Gueffroy tried to flee over the Berlin Wall with his friend, Christian Gaudian. Both were 20 at the time.
Most of the day was devoted to testimony by Heinrich, who according to German news reports fired the deadly shot.
Heinrich claimed, however, that he shot at the feet of one of the would-be escapees to avoid killing him. It was not clear whether the target was Gueffroy or Gaudian.
During extended questioning, Heinrich was asked about his knowledge of human and legal rights. The defense has been trying to show that he and his three co-defendants were so unaware of such matters that they cannot be held responsible for following shoot-to-kill orders.
At one point, Heinrich acknowledged that even as a young man he had not known what the United Nations was.
″We were told not to think and just to follow orders,″ Heinrich said in summarizing one of the tenets of his army commanders.
The soldiers were repeatedly told, even in 1989, that the Berlin Wall was built to protect East Germany ″against imperialist countries.″
Gueffroy was gunned down nine months before the wall opened in November 1989.
Gaudian, shot and wounded during the escape attempt, was sentenced to three years in prison by a Communist East German court as the hard-line regime started to collapse but served only a fraction of his sentence before being released. He is scheduled to testify Monday.