Germany said Friday it will summon the Soviet ambassador to explain why Moscow has not handed over ousted East German communist leader Erich Honecker for trial.
Berlin state justice authorities issued an arrest warrant on Nov. 30 for Honecker, accusing him of signing shoot-to-kill orders that resulted in the deaths of would-be escapees from East Germany.On Thursday, they asked for Bonn's help in persuading the Soviet Union to turn him over, federal government spokesman Dieter Vogel said Friday.
The Soviets say they have admitted Honecker to a Soviet military hospital in Beelitz, outside Berlin, for humanitarian reasons. Honecker's lawyers say he is seriously ill and under treatment for high blood pressure.
The Soviets' sheltering of Honecker, 78, who was toppled in 1989's peaceful revolution in East Germany, is complicating Bonn's relations with Moscow. In recent months the two governments have drawn closer together through Moscow's blessing of German unity and German promises of huge financial aid for the Soviets.
Vogel said that "in a short time" the Foreign Ministry will invite the Soviet ambassador in Bonn for talks about Honecker.
Under German law, the prosecution of Honecker is not a federal matter but one for justice officials in Berlin, whose eastern half was East Germany's seat of government.
On Thursday, sources said Bonn may try to persuade Soviet authorities to let a German doctor into the Soviet military hospital to examine Honecker and determine whether he is fit to stand trial.
Also Friday, the Berlin state court said it has rejected a challenge of the arrest warrant by Honecker's lawyers. The lawyers argued that Honecker could not be penalized for following the law of former East Germany.