Officials Say Government Agents Bombed Prison
HANOVER, West Germany (AP) _ Government agents blew a hole in a prison wall in 1978 as part of a scheme to infiltrate leftist terrorist circles, an official said Friday.
Authorities at the time had blamed the blast at Celle Prison on an inmate, who had actually been recruited as an agent for West Germany’s domestic intelligence.
In reality, undercover agents of GSG-9, a shadowy paramilitary unit trained for anti-terrorist operations, had blown a hole in the main wall around Celle Prison, said Egbert Moecklinghoff, interior minister for Lower Saxony state. No one escaped and there were no injuries.
After the blast, authorities held a news conference with the inmate present. They said the prisoner had escaped while on a trip outside the prison, but returned to blow up the wall out of sympathy for the Red Army Faction, Moecklinghoff recounted.
The convict was then able win the trust of another inmate, Sigurd Debus, a member of the Red Army Faction terrorist group, said Moecklinghoff.
The agent infiltrated that group and foreign terrorist circles after his release in 1979, and subsequently provided information that helped authorities thwart two plots to break terrorists out of prison, prevent armed robberies and uncover weapons caches, Moecklinghoff said.
Moecklinghoff spoke to reporters hours after a Hanover newspaper disclosed the operation by the GSG-9.
Moecklinghoff said then-Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and Interior Minister Gerhart Baum had approved the bombing plan, as did Lower Saxony’s governor, Ernst Albrecht, and interior minister, Roetger Gross.
The opposition Greens Party filed a criminal complaint Friday charging that Schmidt, Albrecht, Baum and Gross had been parties to a criminal act. The Greens and the opposition Social Democrats also called for a special session of Parliament’s Interior Committee on April 30 to review the bomb operation.
Schmidt’s office in Bonn issued a statement Friday denying he knew of the plan. The Lower Saxony state government is controlled by the Christian Democrats. Schmidt, chancellor from 1974-82, is a Social Democrat.
But Lower Saxony government spokesman Hilmar von Poser said Friday night that Schmidt’s office was involved in planning the bombing.