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Berlin Wall Shooter Won’t Testify

December 18, 1998

BERLIN (AP) _ A man accused of shooting a border guard while rescuing his family from communist East Germany in 1962 refused to testify at his trial Friday because he has lost faith in the justice system, his lawyer said.

Rudolf Mueller, 67, is charged with shooting the 20-year-old East German guard, Reinhold Huhn, just before his family’s daring escape through a tunnel under the Berlin Wall.

At the second session of his trial, which began Monday, Mueller’s lawyer said his client would refuse to testify because mitigating circumstances, including the political situation at the time and the fact that East German guards had shoot-to-kill orders, were not being considered by the court.

Mueller had fled to West Berlin shortly before the Wall was built in 1961, then dug a tunnel under it as part of his plan to go back and bring his family out.

According to documents read in court, Mueller admitted during pretrial questioning by prosecutors that he shot Huhn once after Huhn raised his weapon and ordered him to stop.

Mueller, his wife, two sons and sister-in-law then escaped through the 72-foot tunnel.

After reaching the West, Mueller turned in his weapon. He also claimed that Western intelligence agents hinted to him it would be wise to keep quiet about the shooting, according to the documents.

West Berlin officials maintained at the time that Huhn had been shot by a fellow East German guard who was trying to prevent the Mueller family’s June 18, 1962, escape.

They refused to turn Mueller over to East Germany, which wanted to put him on trial for murder. But Berlin prosecutors reopened the case after unification in 1990, based on new evidence unearthed in East German secret police files.

Mueller’s case has attracted wide attention because he is the first Westerner charged for killing an East German border guard during an escape.

Hundreds of former East German border guards and officials have been convicted on charges related to shooting those trying to flee to the West. Nearly 1,000 people were killed trying to cross into West Germany, according to the latest official count.

Mueller is free on $60,000 bail. The trial continues Wednesday.

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