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Germany

Stasi secret police informant denied compensation by European court

The man swore allegiance to the former German Democratic Republic's secret police and wrote 32 informant reports. He claimed he was an unwitting accomplice to the feared Stasi, thinking they were ordinary police.

A visitor in Berlin the former interrogation rooms of the Stasi in Berlin (picture alliance/dpa/P. Zinken)

A visitor in the former interrogation rooms of the Stasi in Berlin

A suspected Stasi informer who was imprisoned for 14 months in the former East Germany was denied his claim for restitution payments in a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights on Thursday.

The octogenarian had received a pension for political prisoners after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but the payment was revoked in 2008 after he was outed as an informer for the notorious secret police. He was obliged to repay the government.

He appealed the decision in Germany but was refused. He took the case to the Strasbourg court, claiming that he had not received a fair trial and that he was an unwitting informer.

According to Stasi documents, he swore allegiance to the secret police force and wrote 32 reports for it between September 1953 and November 1954.

Compensation for 'innocent victims'

Federal law provides compensation only for "innocent victims of state persecution." The man had argued that he had not knowingly worked for the Stasi, insisting he thought it was the regular police.

The Strasbourg court rejected his appeal on Thursday. The judges pointed out that the plaintiff's reports on citizens making contact with the West were very valuable to the Stasi and could have led to persecution of those on whom he informed.

Any undisclosed association with the former East German secret police can have drastic consequences in modern Germany. In January, Berlin's state housing secretary was condemned for lying about his employment with the Stasi.

The Left Party in Thuringia has been regarded as following some elements of East Germany's former Communist rulers. In the past, the alleged association has sparked protests with party opponents shouting "Stasi raus!" (Stasi out!) during their rallies.  

aw/jm (KNA, epd, dpa)

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