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Report: Indictments Being Prepared in Two Berlin Wall Killings

April 21, 1991

BERLIN (AP) _ Authorities are preparing indictments against former East German soldiers who shot and killed two young men who were trying to climb over the Berlin Wall to freedom, a newspaper reported Sunday.

They would be the first indictments stemming from the border shootings that claimed about 200 lives during Communist rule.

The Berliner Morgenpost newspaper said authorities had the names of both victims and of the soldiers involved in the killings, one in November 1986 and the other in December 1984.

″An indictment against the former border soldiers is to be issued shortly,″ the Morgenpost said, citing Berlin justice authorities. The newspaper also quoted spokeswoman Jutta Burghart as saying the indictments would be ″this year.″

Authorities had intended first to try former Communist leader Erich Honecker and his associates for issuing the shoot-to-kill orders.

However, the Soviets’ decision to take Honecker to Moscow forced authorities to revise their plans. Moscow has made it clear it has no intention of sending the 78-year-old Honecker back to Germany to stand trial.

According to the Morgenpost, the November 1986 shooting was particularly cold-blooded.

The border soldiers shot and wounded 25-year-old Michael Bittner as he was trying to climb over the Berlin Wall in the northern part of the city, it said.

″Let me go over, let me go over 3/8″ cried the wounded man, who was bleeding profusely. But the border soldiers fired again and the young man fell back onto the East German side, the newspaper said.

The guards then fired a third time, apparently because the man was still showing signs of life. A witness quoted by the newspaper said one of the soldiers laughed and called out, ″I got you, you pig 3/8″

Another soldier became distraught and was disarmed and taken away from the scene, the Morgenpost said.

In December 1984, 20-year-old Michael Schmidt was shot in the back as he tried to escape over the Berlin Wall in the center of the city.

The Morgenpost said the names of the victims had not been known until recently.

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