Haggling over the fate of Honecker

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The Independent Online
MOSCOW (AP) - Russian and Chilean officials yesterday negotiated over the fate of Erich Honecker, the former East German leader wanted in Germany on manslaughter charges, officials and news reports said.

Mr Honecker, who allegedly gave shoot-to-kill orders to guards at the Berlin Wall and other borders, remained in Moscow's Chilean embassy, where he and his wife, Margot, have stayed since December 1991.

Over the weekend the Russian foreign ministry said Mr Honecker would leave his refuge soon, but subsequent reports from Germany said a deal collapsed because of disagreements between the Russians and the Chileans.

A Chilean embassy spokeswoman and the Russian Interfax news agency said James Holger, a special envoy to Chile's President, Patricio Aylwin, was still negotiating with Russian authorities.

The Honeckers sought refuge in the Chilean embassy after Russia demanded he return to Germany or face expulsion. Mr Honecker had sheltered the Chilean ambassador Clodomiro Almeyda after the 1973 right-wing coup in Chile. He has sought permission to go to Chile, where his daughter lives, but the Chilean government, under pressure from Germany, has refused.

The former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev spurned German requests to turn Mr Honecker over to Berlin justice authorities, and the Russian government inherited the problem when the Soviet Union collapsed in December last year.