Shooting scandal claims new victim

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The Independent Online
GERMANY'S federal prosecutor, Alexander von Stahl, yesterday became the latest casualty in the row over the shooting of an alleged terrorist, Wolfgang Grams. The Justice Ministry said in a statement that it had asked President Richard von Weizsacker to dismiss Mr von Stahl, who had allegedly failed to clear up the circumstances of the 27 June gunfight. The furore had already led to the resignation of the interior minister and more heads are likely to roll.

The German authorities yesterday came up with yet another version of how the alleged terrorist died. The latest account is that Grams was killed not with a police weapon but with his own pistol. (There had been early official suggestions that Grams had committed suicide; subsequently that was ruled out.)

Several press reports, quoting witnesses, have talked of Grams being deliberately killed by members of the GSG-9 anti-terrorist unit when he was already lying wounded. One participant was quoted as saying 'Grams' killing was like an execution.'

The contradictory accounts could still be reconciled if a member of the GSG-9 picked up Grams' weapon and fired it. Hans-Ludwig Zachert, president of the Bureau for Criminal Investigation, said yesterday that a GSG-9 member said he had removed Grams' pistol while he was lying wounded on the ground and put it on the platform (the shooting took place at a small railway station) 'because of the still-existing danger of suicide'. Another wanted terrorist, Birgit Hogefeld, was arrested during the same operation; a member of the anti-terrorist unit was killed.

The Chancellery minister, Friedrich Bohl, said yesterday he was 'highly dissatisfied' with all the chaos and the mutual recrimination, for example between the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Prosecutor's office. 'I expect all authorities not to push the blame on to each other,' he said.