(Eng.) ANTIFA INFO-BULLETIN, Luebeck: Anatomy of a Cover-Up

Robert (101607.2566@CompuServe.COM)
17 Jul 96 13:15:40 EDT


---------- Forwarded Message ----------

From: Tom Burghardt, INTERNET:tburghardt@igc.org
To: Robert, 101607,2566
Date: 16.07.1996 15:40

Subject:ANTIFA INFO-BULLETIN, Luebeck: Anatomy of a Cover-Up

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|| * -- UPDATE --- * -- July 16, 1996 -- * -- UPDATE --- * ||
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U P D A T E
_____

L U E B E C K :

ANATOMY OF A COVER-UP


*****


EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION

On the night of January 18, 1996, arsonists attacked an
apartment building filled with refugees in the city of Luebeck,
Germany. 10 people, including 4 children, were murdered and some
55 other victims were severely injured in the blaze.

Shortly after the conflagration was set, police stopped
three suspects; all had connections to Luebeck's neo-Nazi scene.
According to preliminary reports, the boneheads had repeatedly
threatened residents of the building on Neue Hafenstrasse 52.
Yet, the police and the State Prosecutor's office released the
Nazis because they "had an alibi." One of the boneheads is now
accused of having desecrated a Jewish cemetery!

More concerned with their "international image" than in
tracking down and prosecuting the racist murderers, State
authorities arrested Safwan Eid, a 20-year-old Lebanese refugee.
Eid and his family were victims of the pogrom, yet he and other
victims have been treated as if they were the criminals
responsible for this atrocity! Eid remains imprisoned and has
been formally charged with 10 counts murder.

The report below, by the International Independent
Commission, constituted to investigate the xenophobic nature of
the State's case against Safwan Eid, details the shoddy work by
the cops and the blatant, political nature of what promise to be
a latter-day show trial in the Germany of "actually existing
capitalism."

Forensic evidence, including the singed hair and eyebrows of
the fascists, their contradictory "alibis" coupled with a prior
history of racist and anti-Semitic violence in the city, which
includes repeated assaults on refugees and the 1994 firebombing
of a synagogue during the Passover holiday, points to a cover-up
by the State Prosecutor's Office -- for the Nazi killers.

DEMAND FREEDOM FOR SAFWAN EID!


*****


From: DEBRA@OLN.comlink.apc.org (Debra Guzman)
Organization: HURINet/Human Rights Info Network
Subject: DEU: germany update may/june 96
Date: Wed, 03 Jul 1996 13:44:00 +0100

-----

## author: MISCHA@VLBERLIN.comlink.de
## date : 02.07.96

BERLIN ANTIRACIST INFORMATION NETWORK

Germany Update May/June 96

-----

SAFWAN EID STILL IN JAIL. INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION STARTS
WORK IN LUEBECK. STATE PROSECUTOR REFUSES TO COOPERATE.

The "International Independant Commission" investigating the
case of Safwan Eid, the Lebanese man accused of starting a fire
in which 10 people were killed, started work in Luebeck at the
end of April. The Commission is made up of 9 members - lawyers
and authors from France, Great Britain, Italy, Israel and the
Netherlands.

The Commission has however met with a wall of non-
cooperation on the part of the Luebeck State Prosecutor and the
investigating authorities, which has meant that the Commission
members have been refused access to the burnt-out ruin of the
scene of the fire and have also been denied permission to visit
Safwan Eid in jail. The commissioners were however able to study
the documents made available to Safwan's lawyer. Christian
Bruschi, a French lawyer and Commission member commented after
looking at the documents that they indicated that Safwan Eid's
guilt "was in no way obvious".

The nine Commission members all have experience with human
rights groups fighting racism and antisemitism. Geoffrey Bindman,
a lawyer from Britain, commented that "we want to make use of our
experience in cases of racist attacks" and went on to criticize
the hesitancy of the German authorities in identifying racially
motivated violence. The Commission also has three Italian members
- Mario Angelelli, Angiolo Gracci and Arturo Salerni. In an
interview they are quoted as saying that Italian newspaper
commentators following the case were "very astonished" at the
course of investigations. "It is very strange in a case of such
importance to decide that the person who is supposed to have
committed the crime is himself among the victims. Especially when
the State Prosecutor already expressed this opinion a few days
after the fire, before the investigations were completed".

Meanwhile Safwan Eid's lawyer, Gabriele Heinecke, has
submitted an appeal against her client's imprisonment. According
to the text of her appeal, "the claim made by the State
Prosecutor, alleging that Safwan Eid desribed the exact place in
which the fire started to an ambulance medic during the night of
the fire, and hence demonstrated knowledge available only to the
perpetrator, is false". In addition Safwan Eid is 20, not 21
years of age, which means that under German law a juvenile court
judge must decide on the terms of his detention.

According to Ms Heinecke, who formulated her appeal after
the case documentation had been made available to her, none of
the witnesses in the case confirm that Safwan Eid talked of the
fire starting on the first floor, as has so far been claimed by
the State Prosecutor. An independant fire expert - a Mr Ernst
Achilles - had also disproved the State Prosecutor's assumption
that the fire could not have been started by people entering from
outside. Ms Heinecke went on to state that the fire could have
been started in as many as three different places. Investigations
have also so far failed to deal with the question of the body of
one of the victims, named as Sylvio A., found tied up with wire.
An autopsy concluded that the cause of death was not smoke
poisoning.

Gabriele Heinecke once again called for the State Prosecutor
to revise the official version of the course of events during the
fire, taking the evidence unearthed by Mr Achilles into account.
Both the State Prosecutor and the State and Federal Bureaus of
Investigation (Staatskriminalamt and Bundeskriminalamt) have so
far refused to reexamine the scene of the fire together with Mr
Achilles. According to one spokesperson: "There wouldn't have
been any new results" (jw 23.4.96).

Safwan Eid is still in jail, still awaiting trial, at the
time of writing.

["Germany Update" would appreciate any reports of how this case
has been handled in the media in other countries, or of any
actions taken by antiracist groups etc.]

*FREE SAFWAN EID*FREE SAFWAN EID*FREE SAFWAN EID*FREE SAFWAN
EID*FREE SAFWAN EID*

-----

Below we document a translation of a statement made by the
Independant International Commission on 23.06.96.:

-----


INDEPENDENT INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION

Mario Angelelli - Geoffrey Bindman - Christian Bruschi - Angiolo
Gracci - Beate Klarsfeld - Hans Langenberg - Felicia Langer -
Gaetano Pecorella - Arturo Salerni

Address: Schoolplein POSTAL ADDRESS
Advokatenkollektief IN GERMANY:
Schoolplein 5A Anwaltsbuero Heinecke pp
3581 PX Utrecht Budapester Str. 49
20359 Hamburg
Telefon: +49 (0)40/439 60 02
Telefax: +49 (0)40/439 31 83

Bank account no.: 498 463-203; Postbank Hamburg BLZ 200 100 20
Account in the name of: A.Wulf/ Pax Christi;
Heading:IUK Luebeck

-----

The Independant International Commission (IIC) investigating
the fire on 18th January 1996 in Luebeck in the Neue Hafenstrasse
52 met for its second plenary meeting on June 22nd and 23rd. The
IIC has resolved to publish an interim report, as well as prior
to publication to give expression to its justified fears about
the nature and results of the investigations by the state
prosecutor.

STATEMENT
INDEPENDENT INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION
Luebeck, 23rd June 1996

-----

I. THE RESIDENTS OF THE BUILDING NEUE HAFENSTRASSE 52

The IIC has noted that the surviving former residents of the
house in which the fire took place - many of whom were severely
injured by the fire - are subjected as foreigners to restrictions
regarding their residency status. All these people were without
exception witnesses to the tragic events. In order to really get
to the bottom of this tragedy and to arrest those responsible,
all witnesses must be present and able to make their testimony.

It is for this reason that the IIC notes with concern that
some of the former residents are still threatened by deportation,
and this in spite of the fact that the state prosecutors'
preliminary proceedings against Safwan Eid have not even been
completed yet. The Commission is even aware of one case in which
a former resident, Victor Atoe, was already deported to Nigeria
in May 1996. The deportation of potential witnesses, or even
allowing potential witnesses to be threatened by deportation
before a case has been completed in which their statements could
be of significance undermines the process of establishing
justice. It is not possible to reach a just verdict under such
circumstances.

We recommend that all those affected are given binding
guarantees that their residency in the Federal Republic of
Germany is assured at least until all conceivable investigations
arising in connection with the fire in the Neue Hafenstrasse have
been completed. Victor Atoe should immediately be granted
permission to return if he so wishes. It should be made public
that Emannuel Uwaila will not be deported or punished so that he
is then hopefully in a position to make his whereabouts known.


II. SUSPECTS

The IIC is of course not in a position to establish the
identity of the person or persons responsible for the fire. It
would neither be meaningful nor appropriate for the IIC to take
on this task, which is properly the task of the criminal
prosecution authorities, acting according to the law of the
Federal Republic of Germany. The IIC considers it however to be
its duty to express its concern regarding certain aspects of the
investigational proceedings and method, which in the opinion of
the IIC lack balance and objectivity. It is clearly a completely
illogical act for someone to set fire to the house in which he
lives and then to stay there with his entire family, if he does
not happen to have suicidal and homicidal tendencies. The state
prosecutor admits that whatever Safwan Eid may have done, he did
not intend to murder anybody. The state prosecutor, who has
managed to keep the accused in jail since the fire, is pressing a
case against a 20-year old adolescent who only attended school in
Germany for 6 months and who hence speaks German only poorly. The
state prosecutor's office has based its actions on the grounds of
a single statement which is talked up into a confession and which
was allegedly made to a single witness. It acts in this way
although the fire could well have caused the accused to be under
shock, according to the statement of the selfsame witness. The
state prosecutor's case is based on this supposed confession
although four people can testify that the accused stated directly
after the fire that there had been an attack from outside. In
addition the state prosecutor also ignores a series of
contradictions in the depiction of Safwan Eid's supposed
confession to other people by the paramedical worker before the
latter was interviewed by the police.

By contrast the initially suspected youths who have neo-nazi
connections or sympathies were immediately released following the
arrest of Safwan Eid, in spite of the following facts:


1. A forensic examination following their arrest showed that
the youths had freshly singed hair, eyebrows and
eyelashes.

2. They were seen on the night of the crime in the direct
vicinity of the scene of the fire.

3. The majority of them already had a long list of previous
convictions for violent behaviour and theft. One of them
is currently accused of desecrating a Jewish graveyard.

4. The exact time of the outbreak of the fire and hence
their alibi are uncertain.


The IIC is in possession of a statement from the state
prosecutor's office in which the reasons for the cessation of
investigations regarding these three suspects are given. All the
reasons given by the state prosecutor's office only give rise to
further questions:


1. The state prosecutor says that the suspects were to be
found at a Shell filling station and at the railway
station when the fire broke out, and not in the vicinity
of the scene of the crime. Given that the exact time of
the outbreak of the fire is unknown and that the railway
station is only a few minutes' drive away from the scene
of the crime, this statement seems inconclusive and in
need of further elucidation.

2. The suspects' explanations for their singed hair, which
of course leads to the conclusion that they had shortly
before been near a fire, are confused, contradictory or
lacking in credibility. However, further investigations
into the truth of these statements were never undertaken.
One of the suspects for example claims to have singed his
eyebrows and hair whilst attempting to set light to a dog
(an "explanation" denied by one of the other suspects).
There are no indications that any attempts were made to
find this dog. In fact the state prosecutor's office
seems itself not to believe the suspect's explanation, as
it claims that: "the singed hair of the suspect possibly
stems from them having set light to stolen vehicles which
they had previously ransacked". Not one of the suspects
has ever made such a claim. They merely admitted that
they often steal cars. There seems to be no evidence to
support the theory of the state prosecutor.


The IIC is seriously concerned that the state prosecutor
apparently seems neither willing nor able to pursue further these
and other leads regarding the suspects from the nearby town of
Grevesmuehlen. It is painfully obvious and is the cause of grave
concern to us, that the state prosecutor on the one hand does not
pursue tangible leads against these persons yet on the other hand
is prosecuting Safwan Eid on the basis of an alleged confession.

The IIC recommends that investigations against the suspects
from Grevesmuehlen are reopened.


III. THE STATE PROSECUTOR'S MAIN WITNESS

We have already stated above that the state prosecutor's
case is based on the statement of a volunteer paramedical worker
who was at the scene of the fire. The IIC has no intention to
cast doubt on the credibility of this witness, who clearly
provided valuable and brave assistance to the victims of the
fire. The IIC notes however with concern that his reports of what
Safwan Eid is supposed to have said to him are self-contradictory
and that there is no independant confirmation for the reports
made by this witness.


IV. THE OUTBREAK OF THE FIRE

The IIC is concerned that uncertainties and contradictions
regarding the cause and point of origin of the fire have not been
investigated further. It looks as if the state prosecutor's
office reached its conclusion that the fire started on the first
floor at a very early stage of the investigations. It also claims
that this version is confirmed by Safwan Eid's alleged
confession. This is not the case.

In contradiction to the expert's report on which the state
prosecutor's case is based, the statements of Professor Achilles
make it appear at least equally plausible that the fire started
on the ground floor of the building. Not only that, but it
appears eminently possible that the fire was started by persons
who had intruded into the house or by a person or several persons
who threw an incendiary compound through a window.

The IIC acknowledges that Professor Achilles has been called
on by the court to act as an expert witness. The IIC assumes that
he will produce an additional report which the IIC hopes will
contribute to the clarification of the current contradictions in
the evidence regarding the outbreak of the fire.

The IIC has received the disquieting information that the
house in which the fire took place has not been reliably sealed
off by the police and that unauthorized persons have access to
the house. It is possible that important evidence has thus been
destroyed. Of even greater concern is information to the effect
that there are plans to tear down the house completely. We
urgently recommend that everything be done to ensure that the
house is preserved until all investigations relating to the fire
have been completed.

We also recommend that Professor Achilles or, if it is in
the interest of the case, another international expert be asked
to work out guidelines for investigations when there is a
suspicion of arson in order to ensure that the facts of future
incidents can be established fully and unambiguously.


V. BUGGING - THE USE OF ELECTRONIC LISTENING DEVICES

The state prosecutor's office has taped the conversations
between Safwan Eid and his relatives in jail.

Extracts from these taped conversations are quoted in the
indictment. It is claimed that they contain a confession by
Safwan Eid. This recourse to bugging procedures is surprising.
Does this not contradict the right to private and family life
which is accorded to all persons, even those accused of crimes?
Article 8 of the European Human Rights Convention formulates this
right with a number of restrictions. According to the opinion of
the Commission these restrictions do not apply in this case.

The method chosen by the state prosecutor's office for the
analysis of these excerpts is also surprising. It is a one-sided
analysis in order to interpret the excerpts to the disadvantage
of the accused. Yet not even the interpreters are agreed on the
contents of the excerpts. The results of this bugging, which is
largely in contravention of basic rights, contain nothing which
proves Safwan's guilt. They merely give rise to speculation,
which the state prosecutor presents as a confession.


ANNEX

Our observations and comments are based on statements by
both the state prosecutor and the defence. The IIC has received
support from the accused's legal advisor. The IIC has offered to
meet with the state prosecutor. The state prosecutor's office has
refused. The IIC is however still willing to meet with the state
prosecutor's office and to look into any comments or suggestions
which the latter would like to make.

* * * * *

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