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Israel rejects speculation that Mossad killed German politician

Nov. 24, 2010 9:23 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 24, 2010 8:00 P.M.)
TEL AVIV, Israel (DPA) -- Israel rejected Monday a claim by a retired Swiss chemistry professor that the murder of a German politician 23 years ago had the hallmarks of a Mossad assassination.

Uwe Barschel, premier of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, was found dead in a Geneva hotel room in 1987. The cause of death was on overdose of a sleeping drug. His family has never accepted the view of most pathologists that Barschel, 43, committed suicide.

The professor, Hans Brandenberger, revived on Sunday his longtime contention, based on tissue analysis, that Barschel was incapable of deliberate action at the time when the drug, cyclobarbital, and a hypnotic substance, noludar, entered his body.

Brandenberger said he spoke out after his retirement gave him the leisure to read for the first time a 1994 book, The Other Side of the Deception, by US-based author Victor Ostrovsky, who claims to be a former Mossad agent.

The book suggests Mossad killed Barschel at the hotel with drugs and made the death look like suicide.

In an article published Sunday in the newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Brandenberger, 89, said his tissue findings fitted "astonishingly well" with the method of secret assassination described in the book.

Yigal Palmor, Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman, rejected the speculation.

"There's no basis on which one could connect Israel to this case, he said in Jerusalem. Asked if Germany should re-open its own inquiry, he said, "It's not up to us to tell the German authorities what they should do or not do."

Welt am Sonntag quoted those Germans who believe Barschel was murdered as calling for a fresh inquiry.

Ostrovsky's 1994 book claimed Barschel was killed because he knew about alleged Israeli arms sales to Iran.

Israeli spokesman Palmor said Ostrovsky was not a credible author.

"Half of what he says is lies, and the other half is invented, Palmor said.

Swiss prosecutors have always rejected Brandenberger's urging to treat Barschel's death as a murder.

The suicide thesis is that Barschel drank a lethal cocktail of sedatives in the wake of an unsavory political scandal in his state which culminated in his resigning as premier nine days before his death.

Brandenberger's thesis is that a murderer gave Barschel a tasteless "knock-out" drug in a glass of wine to make him compliant, then forced him an hour later to swallow the lethal overdose.

The Swiss professor argues that the timeline can be proved from the varying concentrations of the drugs in different organs.

But no suspects were ever seen in Geneva, and no other evidence for murder was ever found.
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