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East German Officers Face Charges of Murder

Nearly 15 years after the Berlin wall fell, one of the last chapters in East German history unfolded Thursday in a Berlin court when three former border guards were called upon to answer to charges of murder and accessory to murder. The state prosecutor has accused a former border commander and his two assistants, today 69 and 70 years old, of being responsible for the death of four escapees. The three border guards have pleaded "not guilty." Speaking to the court, the former commander said he regretted "all the deaths and injuries resulting from the politics of the Cold War." At the same time, he defended himself against the "despicable and discriminating accusations" that East German authorities simply accepted the deaths as a matter of course. All three of the accused referred to the former East German law, under which their actions would not have been considered illegal. According to the state prosecutor’s office, there are currently three similar cases still pending ruling. In Berlin alone, more than 100 people were killed trying to escape over the wall.