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Debate Tougher Protest Laws After Policemen Killed

November 5, 1987

BONN, West Germany (AP) _ A leading conservative politician on Wednesday demanded tighter controls over protesters after two police officers were killed in the worst-ever violence at a public demonstration in West Germany.

The shooting deaths Monday night have sparked a nationwide debate and shocked West Germans, widely considered to be among the most law-abiding people in Europe.

It was the first time West German police were killed at a protest. The clash also left nine officers injured.

Bavarian Governor Franz Josef Strauss, one of the nation’s most influential conservative politicians, called for tougher protest laws and criticized liberal politicians for an ″apparent unwillingness to defend the rule of law and the life of police officials.″

″We must finally create the legislation that will put an end to the permissiveness″ that led to the clash, Strauss said in a letter to leaders of the West German coalition government.

″We must not allow masked terrorists to march through our streets,″ he added in the letter, which was made public in Munich on Wednesday.

Leaders of the opposition Social Democratic party and the liberal Free Democratic party have warned against overreacting.

The DGB, West Germany’s powerful trade union federation, said Wednesday it opposed tightening demonstration legislation and that existing laws must be better applied to prevent violence.

In the clash, scores of protesters wearing black masks hurled bricks, gasoline bombs and flares at police, who used water cannon to break up their demonstration against a runway at Frankfurt airport.

The runway, which opened in 1984, has been the scene of frequent protests by environmentalits and other groups since authorities had to clear part of a forest to construct it.

In Stuttgart, about 7,000 people took part in a memorial march Wednesday for the two dead policemen, Klaus Eichoefer, 44, and Thorsten Schwalm, 23.

Another 5,000 people gathered in Hanover and smaller marches were staged in several other cities.

The debate over protest laws has been the dominant subject in radio talk shows and newspapers across the country.

In Bonn, the Cabinet discussed the deaths, but did not reach any decision on whether to introduce legislation for tighter protest laws in the Bundestag, or parliament. It was slated to debate the issue Thursday.

A suspect held in the shootings appeared before a magistrate for questioning to determine whether murder charges should be filed against him.

The 33-year-old suspect was arrested after police discovered a 9mm pistol during a search of his home. Ballistics tests later showed the pistol had been used in the shooting of one of the two officers, according to police.

Conservative demands for a tightening protest laws have long been one of the main differences between the parties in the Bonn coalition govenment.

The Bavarian Christian Social Union, led by Strauss, has called for adoption of a law that would make it a crime for demonstrators to wear masks or hoods at protests. The Free Democrats, the junior party in the coalition, has opposed such a ban.