Ex-E. German Official Charged With Fraud and Embezzlement
Erich Mielke, who headed the ministry of state security in East Germany--better known as Stasi--was charged Saturday with fraud and embezzlement, authorities said.
The 250-page indictment accused Mielke of ordering illegal telephone tapping in at least 25 cases, embezzling foreign currency funds and involvement in election fraud, Berlin Justice Senator Jutta Limbach said.
Mielke was also under investigation for allegedly ordering the “liquidation” of a large number of East Germans trying to escape to the West, for involvement in violent incidents at the former East-West border and for illegally seizing mail, Limbach said.
Mielke, 83, was minister from 1957 until the fall of Communist ruler Erich Honecker in 1989.
In December, 1989, Mielke was arrested and remained in custody until his release for health reasons in early March, 1990. Last July, he was arrested again and kept in jail while investigations continued.
Limbach said the indictment against Mielke accused him of instigating the falsification of ballots during municipal East German elections in May, 1989, in which the Communist Party and its satellite groups won 98.8% of the vote.
Mielke was also accused of embezzling $205,000 from $10 million in foreign currency that poured into Stasi reserves in 1988 and 1989, she said.
She said the trial--the second of a former East German Politburo official--is scheduled to begin in the summer. Former East German trade union leader Harry Tisch is currently on trial in Berlin for fraud and other illegalities.
Last month, the federal prosecutors office in Karlsruhe charged Mielke with supporting the German terrorist group Red Army Faction.
The indictment accused Mielke of aiding and abetting the group in the 1980 attempted killing of U.S. Gen. Frederik Kroesen and the bombing at the U.S. Ramstein air base.
A Berlin daily said Saturday that authorities were also investigating Mielke on charges of shooting to death two Berlin police officers in 1931. Mielke, then 23, dodged arrest by escaping to the Soviet Union.
In Moscow, Mielke attended the Lenin School in 1934 and 1935, then joined the international brigade in the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939.
He remained in the Soviet Union until the end of World War II, when he returned to Berlin and helped establish Communist East Germany under Soviet occupation.