Monday, November 22, 2010

New evidence that the Mossad had a hand in the killing of German politician Uwe Barschel in 1987

Uwe Barschel and family in 1987, the year of his death. (DPA)

I still remember this mysterious news item that we, journalists at the foreign desk of the newspaper De Volkskrant got on our desk on 11 October 1987: Uwe Barschel, former prime minister of the German Land Schleswig Holstein, had been found dead, fully clothed in a bath in a room of the luxurious hotel Beau Rivage in Geneva, Switzerland. Was it suicide? Murder? Had he been helped to commit euthanasia for some reason or other? Were there circumstances connected to his health that had been kept from the public? The rather bizar circumstances, the fact that 43-year old Christian Democrat, who till that time had been extremely succesful, had that very same year been forced to quitt office after he had been accused of misconduct during the elections, made that there were wild speculations. His family was convinced that he had been murdered after having contacted and lured to Geneve by a mysterious person, who had promised to give him material that could prove his innocence in the scandal. The German prosecution also took this line after some hesitation. However, in spite of  investigations that lasted till 1998, the  case was never solved.

But now the German Sunday newspaper 'Welt am Sonntag' thinks it has unearthed new evidence. In a long article 'Spur nach Israel, Uwe Barschel, der Tote in Zimmer 317' (A Trail towards Israel, Uwe Barschel, the Dead Man in Room 317) it points an accusing finger at the Israeli secret service Mossad. One of the reasons for its accusation is that Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad agent who wrote two books about  his time in this service. In one of them, The Other Side of Deception: A Rogue Agent Exposes the Mossad’s Secret Agenda, published in 1994 (and in Gemany published under the title  ''Geheimakte Mossad') he gave a detailed account of how Barschel's life came to an end.
Ostrovsky describes that the man who contacted him, visited him in his room, left Barschel sipping of the Beaujolais he had brought with him, saying that he had to get something. A while after that five man entered the room, who found Barschel duly lying on the floor, the result of a strong barbiturate that was contained in the wine. The five put him on the bed, fed him, with the help of an oiled rubber tube, a deadly drug and after that a suppository that contained another barbiturate that would enhance the working of this drug. The next thing they did was putting him in the bath tub, which before hand had been filled with ice water.

Ostrovsky's description of what happened was not new. And there was no proof. But now, Welt am Sonntag claims, they have some corroborating evidence. Hans Brandenberger, the Swiss toxicologist who was involved the case from the beginning, has never let the case drop from his mind. The now 89 year old is specalist in the changes that the human metabolism causes in chemical sunstances it absorbs, says the paper (aren't all toxicologists?). Anyhow, Brandenberger discovered already in 1994 that the deadly substance cyclobarbital, that was found in Barzel's  stomac, had been administered relatively late, as most of it was still found in its original composition in the stomac and rather little in an altered form in blood and urine, while both blood and urine contained enough quantities of the other barbiturates to make it sure beyond doubt that he was already unconscious at the time he took the cyclobarbital . It was one of the main reasons that the prosecution continued its murder investigation., Welt am Sonntage says.
Rather recently, however, Brandenberger also found the answer to the questeion that had been plagueing him all along, namely, why the strong working barbiturate Noludar, that also was found in Barschel body, was not present in his stomac and only in its non-altered from in his urine. The answer,  Brandenberger, sayd, is that it must have been administerd to him through the rectum, and even after the cyclobarbital. The people who did it probably wanted to exclude the possiblity that Barschel could be found before he died, and would survive after his stomac was pumped out, he said.
Brandenberger's findings led him to the conclusion that not only it was 100% sure it had been murder, but also it ,must have been the work of a professional team, because of the complexity of administering supositories or deadly doses to the stomac of someone who is already unconscious. Which meant that in an unexspected way Brandenberg is corroborating Ostrovsky's story - unexspectedly mainly because Bandenberger claims that when  he was doing his research, he was unaware of what the ex-agent had written.

About the reasons why Israel might have liked to kill Barschel Welt am Sonntag is less clear. The paper offers various possible explanations, one of them being that Schleswig Holstein played a role as a kind of stepping stone in the shipping of  miliatry hardware by Israel to Iran, that at the time was involved in an ugly  war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Also it hints at American involvement and it tells us that there is evidence that Robert Gates, at the time working with the CIA, lateron US-Defence minister, was in Geneva at the time of the murder. Gates would have been there in relation to the American involvement in these shipments, in the framework of the Iran-contra scandal, the scandal by which de US clandstinely delivered hardware to Iran in order gto free hostages that had been taken by Hezbollah proxies in Lebanon, and used the cash that it received in return to pay Nicarauan contra-rebels which fought against the Sandinistas.
Although it is true that Israel and the USA were both involved in delivering arms to Iran at that time, it sounds somewhat illogical that disclosures Barschel might have been willing to make would have been a reason to kill him. The Iran-contra scandal (and the Israeli involvement) had been brought to light exactly one year earlier by the then Iranian president Rafsanjani. In a speech he disclosed at that time that Robert McFarlane, the head of the American Security Council, had paid a secret visit to Iran with one of these arms shipments and - among other things - brougfht with him presents like a bible with the signature of Ronald Reagan. Subsequently also the Israeli angle became public knowledge. To kill Barschel in order to silence him if he was to disclose an Schleswig-Holsteinian aspect to these shipments, does only make sense if it would have had to do with aspects of the case that hitherto never have been made public. Welt am Sonntag does not provide new clues  in this respect. Which means that, although we may be pretty sure by now that Barschel indeed was killed by a professional secet service, most probably the Mossad, we still have to wait for the next disclosure to be able to know why they did it.. 

No comments: