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Paid informant only link

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 23/02) - The testimony of a paid witness with loose connections to a terrorist gang is the only evidence German police have on Walter Lothar Ebke, a Yellowknife carpenter wanted in Germany on terrorism charges.

NNSL photo

Walter Lothar Ebke will be back in court Jan. 21. - NNSL file photo

Ebke will be in the NWT Court of Appeal court on Jan. 21 to fight a NWT Supreme Court extradition order and a surrender order signed by federal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon.

Arrested in 2000, Ebke is wanted by German authorities for his role in two shootings and two bombings during the 1980s and early 1990s while an alleged a member of the Revolutionary Cells (RZ).

The organization fought what it called state racism in the way the German government dealt with immigration.

Ebke's alleged connections involve planning escapes, monitoring the police radio during operations and providing getaway vehicles.

But the German police's only evidence is the testimony of informant Tarek Mousli, who is being paid by the state to testify after striking a deal and getting a two year-suspended sentence for his terrorism crimes.

Mousli implicated five alleged members of the RZ, including Ebke.

On Dec. 30, 1999, Mousli, acting under special legislation that allows government prosecutors to purchase testimony from a suspect in custody, told police about Ebke.

The next day, the German parliament struck down the practice.

The legislation was drafted by the German government in response to the rising guerrilla threat of the 1970s. It gave the German government more legal powers, including the ability to buy testimony.

Former friends

According to court documents, Mousli and Ebke became friends in the early 1980s and joined the RZ in 1985.

Mousli called Ebke his "best friend" and implicated him in the two shootings and two bombings.

According to court reports posted on the left-wing Web site www.freilassung.de Mousli's testimony during the ongoing Berlin trial for four other members of the RZ is full of contradictions.

In June, the defence for the four alleged members of the RZ blew holes into Mousli's testimony against one of the alleged shooters, Rudolf Schindler.

Mousli said Schindler, accompanied by his wife, pulled the trigger in the 1986 shooting of Harald Hollenberg, director of the Alien's Office in Berlin.

Hollenberg was shot twice in the legs by a man and a women who fled in a VW-Passat.

Hollenberg testified he was shot by a woman with an oval face. Schindler's wife is very thin.

The defence brought an oval-faced woman to the stand who testified she was the shooter.

Testimony hard to follow

Mousli's other testimony, involving explosives used to bomb an immigration building, was called "hard to follow" by the presiding judge, according to a court report on the Web site.

In a videotaped walk-through shown to the court, Mousli second-guessed places he said hid explosives, according to the report.

Authorities never found any evidence of explosives in the building.

Mousli's testimony on the escape route and escape vehicle for one of the shootings also proved weak, said the report.

According to court reports, Mousli wrongly described an escape route and said a car used for the shooting was stolen when it actually had been bought.

According to a short biography on Mousli by left-wing German journal Analyse & Kritik, Mousli joined the RZ through a friend, Gerd Albartus, who was killed by Palestinians in 1987.

Mousli's main job with the RZ was intercepting radio transmissions of the police, the Regional Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Agency of Internal Security.

How much Mousli knew about the workings of the RZ is also questionable.

According to Richard Huffman, a Seattle, Wash.-based historian who is working on a book called The Gun Speaks - about German urban guerrillas during the 1970's - the RZ operated within a cell structure.

This meant members of the group operated independently of each other. There was no hierarchical structure to the RZ, said Huffman.

German Autumn

The case against Ebke and four other alleged members of the RZ is sparking wide controversy within Germany and Europe's left-wing community and human rights groups from Mexico to the Netherlands. They question the German police's tactics at gathering their evidence.

The German government is using legislation enacted in 1975, during a time of intense internal strife called the German Autumn.

The decade of the 1970s was one of the most turbulent times in the German Republic's young history as communist, socialist and anarchist movements turned violently against the state -- as in other parts of western Europe, North and South America.

Under the new legislation, a person could be convicted on the mere proof of membership in a terrorist organization and the prosecution could buy witnesses.

Huffman said the German legislation is similar to the US's recent Patriot Bill implemented after Sept. 11.

While it doesn't necessarily curb terrorism it curbs civil liberties that cast a chill on possible terrorists.

The communist Red Army Faction was the most prominent and bloodiest of the guerrilla groups operating at that time, attacking what they called facets of American imperialism.

The RZ did not have the high profile of the Red Army Faction or the anarchist June 2 movement, which sprouted after a student was shot during a demonstration on June 2, 1968.

Most RZ members acted as part-time operatives who held day jobs, said Huffman.

Huffman compares them to the Earth Liberation Front, an American green guerrilla group that blows up SUVs and burns down under-construction suburban homes.

The RZ attacked what they called symbols of German institutional racism.

In a darkly ironic twist -- for the guerrilla groups -- guerrilla activities actually forced Germany to become a modern, centralized state, said Huffman.

Germany did not have a centralized federal law enforcement agency at the time and created the Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation to combat urban terrorism.