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Thursday, 7 September, 2000, 00:35 GMT 01:35 UK
Berlin Wall officials freed
Berlin Wall in Nov 1989
Clmbing over the wall was not always so easy
The Mayor of Berlin has pardoned two former members of the East German Politburo, who were jailed for ordering the shooting of people trying to flee to the West over the Berlin Wall.


One must help with their new start those who have convincingly turned away from their deeds and confessed to mistakes

Mayor Eberhard Diepgen
Justice officials said Guenther Kleiber and Guenter Schabowski would be freed, after serving less than a third of their three-year sentences, on 2 October - the day before the 10th anniversary of German reunification.

They said the pardon was intended to be a symbolic gesture to promote rehabilitation for those who had apologised for their errors.

Mayor Eberhard Diepgen said he hoped that victims of the former communist regime would understand it.

"The suffering and pain of victims is not thereby erased," he emphasised in a statement.

Injustice acknowledged

The two men were convicted in 1997, but have served less than 10 months of their three-year term due to a lengthy appeals process.

Former Berlin communist party boss GUenter Schabowski, who was jailed for ordering the shootings
Schabowski announced the opening of the Wall
Both have now made clear in public statements that they accept the injustice of the East German system.

Schabowski, the former East Berlin party boss, is remembered for announcing to the world the opening of the Berlin Wall on 9 November, 1989.

The mayor also pardoned a former East German border guard, Bernhard Geier, who had been jailed for manslaughter on humanitarian grounds as he is seriously ill.

By contrast, there was no pardon for Egon Krenz, the last East German head of state, who was convicted along with Schabowski and Kleiber over the Berlian Wall shootings.

Mr Krenz has consistently maintained that he was unjustly prosecuted because he broke no East German laws.

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See also:

09 May 00 | Europe
Trial over Berlin Wall shootings
09 Nov 99 | Europe
Memories from the Wall
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