German activists receive asylum in Venezuela

After Interpol already withdrew an arrest request, two leftists now finally escape persecution by the German justice system

The Venezuelan refugee commission has granted the two German-born Peter Krauth and Thomas Walter a claim for protection from political persecution. They are thus entitled to an unlimited right to stay in Venezuela, reports the solidarity website for the suspects in the so-called K.O.M.I.T.E.E. investigation.

Krauth, Walter and Bernhard Heidbreder, who recently died of a tumour, have been wanted by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) for membership in a terrorist organisation since 1995. They are alleged to have carried out an arson attack on a Bundeswehr building in Bad Freienwalde in the same year. In 1996, the group had also tried to blow up a deportation prison under construction in Berlin-Grünau. A police patrol was alerted to the fact that the construction site had been cordoned off for this purpose. The perpetrators fled, the building remained unharmed. In a vehicle left at the crime scene, the BKA found evidence that it attributed to the three wanted men.

In 2014, German investigators were finally able to arrest Heidbreder in Venezuela. However, his subsequent extradition was rejected by the Supreme Court in Caracas because the alleged crimes were time-barred under Venezuelan law. Subsequently, Krauth was also detained in Caracas on the basis of the Interpol manhunt and was also released.

The statute of limitations for „planning“ a terrorist attack is 20 years in Germany. However, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office is looking for the K.O.M.I.T.E.E. because of a „conspiracy“ to commit the crime. Although the attack did not even take place, the statute of limitations for this charge is 40 years. Complaints against the trick of the German prosecutors were not accepted by the Federal Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

Prior to the decision of the Venezuelan Refugee Commission, Walter had already been successful in getting Interpol to withdraw the international alert for arrest. The international police organisation may not be used by governments for political persecution, for example when opposition members seek protection in another country. This was the case with the three wanted men.

„To the best of our knowledge, the two of us are currently the only leftists in the world to be granted asylum from persecution by the German justice system,“ Krauth and Walter write. The fugitives now want to apply for an identity card and a passport in Venezuela. If they leave the country, however, they still risk an extradition to Germany. The deletion of a „red flag“ as requested by Interpol is not obligatory for its members. Other countries could execute a German arrest request on their own initiative.

Image: Thomas Walter and Peter Krauth present the decision of CONARE and an image of their dead friend Bernhard Heidbreder.

Autor: Matthias Monroy

Knowledge worker, activist, editor of the German civil rights journal Bürgerrechte & Polizei/CILIP.