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W. German Pilot Prepares for Soviet Trial

September 01, 1987|Associated Press

MOSCOW — West German teen-age pilot Mathias Rust met with his Soviet lawyer in prison today, the eve of his Supreme Court trial on charges of violating Soviet airspace and international flight rules.

The parents of the 19-year-old flier, Monika and Karl-Heinz Rust, arrived in Moscow on Sunday to attend the trial. They were "quite nervous," said Mario Dederichs, a correspondent for West Germany's Stern magazine.

Rust's three-day trial in a third-floor courtroom of the ivory-colored Soviet Supreme Court building begins Wednesday. Court officials said the courtroom holds about 200 people but refused to show it to reporters today.

Rust's unauthorized flight May 28 from Helsinki, Finland, to Red Square through some of the world's toughest air defenses, captured the imagination of millions, both inside the Soviet Union and abroad.

But it seriously embarrassed the Soviet leadership. The head of Soviet air defenses, Marshal Alexander Koldunov, was fired, and Defense Minister Sergei L. Sokolov retired as a result.

Rust, from suburban Hamburg, has been held in Moscow's Lefortovo prison since he buzzed Lenin's tomb and landed his single-engine Cessna 172B next to the Kremlin.

He is charged with illegal entry into the Soviet Union, malicious hooliganism and violating international flight rules. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.

"We only hope very sincerely that Mathias will get a fair trial and a just verdict," Rust's parents said through Dederichs. They have maintained that their son made the flight to promote understanding between East and West.

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