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Daredevil Pilot May Lose License, Face Charges

August 4, 1988

FRANKFURT, West Germany (AP) _ Mathias Rust, just out of a Soviet prison, learned Thursday the further price of his stunning flight to Red Square may be his pilot’s license, a criminal trial at home and a bill from his flying club.

Spokesman Helmut Gass of the Hamburg Aero-Club, which owns the single- engine Cessna, said the club wants Rust to pay maintenance costs of an unspecified amount. He predicted Rust will resign from the club because of members’ ″negative feelings″ about the young flier.

Rust, now 20, was in seclusion Thursday, the day after Soviet authorities ordered his early release from a four-year prison sentence for buzzing the Kremlin and landing the plane in Red Square on May 28, 1987.

He returned to West Germany on a Lufthansa flight Wednesday afternoon, repeating his original assertions that he was working for world peace when he flew from Finland through Soviet air defenses to Moscow. He acknowledged, however, that the stunt was irresponsible.

In Moscow, assistant general prosecutor Anatoly Vrublevsky said Rust was released after less than 15 months because the young man realized he had made a serious mistake.

″He understood that a violation of the air border of our country is not a joke, but a crime,″ Vrublevsky said. Rust’s exploit caused a shake-up in the Soviet military command.

His release continued to dominated radio and television broadcasts in West Germany and was front-page news in the papers.

″Rust Free 3/8″ proclaimed the mass-circulation Bild of Hamburg.

The West German jetliner on which he returned also was carrying 200 ethnic Germans from the Soviet Union to new lives in the West, Bild said. It quoted him as telling one of them: ″Just like you, I’m happy to be flying to Germany.″

While Rust is glad to be home, he faces two investigations, one of them by licensing officials in Hamburg.

″We are now investigating whether he is trustworthy enough to be flying. That’s the question,″ spokesman Wolfgang Heidenreich told The Associated Press by telephone from Hamburg. ″He still has the right to be heard, so no final decision has been made.″

A suspension of the license also is possible, Heidenreich said, but declined to predict the outcome of the investigation.

In the northern town of Itzehoe, prosecutor Rolf Schamerowski said he was looking into possible criminal charges of fraud and endangering air traffic.

The possiblility of a fraud charge stems from Rust’s misstating his destination to the Aero-Club before he took off for Moscow.

″We’ll have to wait for the questioning of Rust to see how the investigation proceeds,″ Schamerowski told reporters Thursday. ″Only after the end of the investigation will it be clear whether there will be any sanctions against him in the federal republic (West Germany).″

Schamerowski’s jurisdiction includes Wedel, the Rust family’s hometown, six miles west of Hamburg.

A Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman, Vadim Perfiliev, said at a news briefing Thursday in Moscow:

″Mr. Rust committed a very serious crime and the sentence given to him was fully warranted. However, taking into account his repentance, what he has done, as well as the appeals by Rust himself, his parents and representatives and leaders of the federal republic concerning his early pardon, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet″ decided to release him early.

″The Soviet Union hopes that this humanitarian act will be duly taken into account by the West German public and government and that measures will be taken to prevent further illegal actions by West German citizens in the future,″ Perfiliev said.

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