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Ex-Politburo Member Excused From Trial For Illness

May 9, 1996

BERLIN (AP) _ A former East German Politburo member standing trial for killings at the Berlin Wall was excused from appearing in court Thursday for medical reasons.

The manslaughter trial against six former Communist Party members, including former East German leader Egon Krenz, was suspended for six weeks at the end of March so Kurt Hager, 84, could undergo surgery. He suffers from cataracts, diabetes and poor circulation.

Prosecutors are seeking a medical opinion before making a final decision on whether to excuse Hager from appearing in court for the rest of the trial.

The poor health of the aging defendants has been a constant problem during the trial, which had to be postponed last November so defendant Guenter Kleiber could get treatment for a kidney tumor.

The defendants are accused of responsibility for the policy of shooting people trying to flee to the West. Authorities say 584 people died attempting to flee East Germany during its 41 years of existence.

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