BONN (Sep. 13)
Prominent neo-Nazi leader Karl-Heinz Hoffmann today denied that he was involved in the murder of Jewish publisher Shlomo Levin and his female companion Frida Poeschke on December 19, 1980. He also said he would soon make a statement on his views about the Jewish people,which he said, would provide evidence that he is not a “Jew-hater.”
Hoffmann, the head of an extremist neo-Nazi para-military group that paraded about as a sports organization until it was outlawed by the authorities in 1980, is on trial for having plotted the murders of Levin and Poeschke, killed in Levin’s home in Erlangen, southern Germany.
The prosecution yesterday, on the opening day of the trial in Nuremberg, claimed that the actual killing was carried out by 29-year-old Uwe Behrendt, a member of the Hoffmann group who committed suicide in September, 1981 while in a military training camp run by the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon.
Hoffmann today admitted that he provided Behrendt with a plane ticket for his escape from West Germany. But he added that the ticket was not purchased prior to the killing and that it was not prearranged. Hoffmann’s female companion, Franziska Birkmann, is accused of aiding and abetting in the murders.
At the opening day of the trial, state prosecutor Otto Horn asserted that Hoffmann and more than a dozen of his supporters fled to Lebanon to a PLO-run training camp where they were taught to use military hardware.
The camp was the Bir Hassan PLO camp near Beirut, Horn claimed. He said that while at the camp, Hoffmann planned a series of attacks in West Germany and that he also wanted to “impress the PLO leadership.” The PLO denies it has any links to the Hoffmann or his neo-Nazi group.