Police say companion killed Green leader

October 21, 1992|By New York Times News Service

BONN, GERMANY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE. — BONN, Germany -- Police said yesterday that Petra Kelly, founder of the nation's Green Party and a leading figure in its peace and anti-nuclear movements, was shot and killed by her longtime companion, who then took his own life.

The bodies of Miss Kelly, 44, and her companion, Gert Bastian, a 69-year-old former major general in the West German army, were found Monday night in the modest row house they rented in a working-class suburb of Bonn.

"We must assume, based on evidence and expert opinion, that Kelly was shot and Bastian shot himself afterward," said Harmut Otto, chief of the Bonn police.

Peter Iwand, a spokesman for the Bonn prosecutor's office, said that "murder by third parties is certainly excluded," and that autopsies are being performed on both bodies.

Investigators could not say whether Miss Kelly had been murdered by Mr. Bastian or killed as part of a suicide pact. No suicide note or other indication of motive has been found.

"I cannot say what happened there subjectively," Mr. Otto said. "I can only say she was shot from very short range. The gun was placed against her, and the alternatives are simply either that she had agreed or was asleep."

Reaction from the Green Party to the violent deaths of its two best-known members was muted, perhaps because of the increasingly strained relations between the pair and the party leadership over tactics and policies.

"Both were symbols of the Greens at home until the mid-1980s and abroad into the 1990s," said Lukas Beckmann, a co-founder of the party. "Both had such charisma because they were not typical party people."

The Green Party was founded in 1979 as a coalition of environmentalists, pacifists, feminists and communists who battled police at U.S. military bases in the early 1980s. Miss Kelly, whose mother was German and stepfather American, quickly became its best-known personality.

She was frail and had perpetual dark circles around her eyes caused by a chronic kidney problem. But her bright smile, quick wit and sharp tongue, combined with fluency in English, helped her to spread her message.

At her death, much of Miss Kelly's ecological platform had been embraced by mainstream parties throughout Europe.

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