WELT am Sonntag No. 2 from January 10th, 1999
Agent Mauss gains German doctor’s release
Werner Mauss makes good use of his contacts with leftist rebels in Colombia.
Hamburg ws. - Germany’s most active of secret agents has landed another coup. The Munich doctor, Ottmar Broda (60), who was kidnapped in Colombia, has been released with the help of Werner Mauss (58).
The doctor was travelling by car through Latin America as a tourist when he fell victim to leftist guerrilla kidnappers near the cocaine capital of Cali five weeks ago. Antonio Garcia (43), head of intelligence in the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel organisation spoke to WELT am SONNTAG: “We did not kidnap Dr. Broda, he was only arrested. He was in an area that is controlled by us.”
This is the usual explanation of the guerrilla group which, according to its own figures, has 50,000 armed followers. The kidnapping of the German has once again brought the bloody jungle war against the Bogotá government, which claims 6000 lives annually, to the forefront of attention.
Catholic bishop Emile Stehle was first to try to negotiate the release of the German, however rebel leader Antonio Garcia turned to an old friend – secret agent Werner Mauss – to take over as mediator. He had spent years engaged in special missions in Colombia until 1996 when an insurance company intrigued against him, and lured him into a trap that brought about his arrest. He was released after nine months, cleared of all charges.
Mauss told WELT am SONNTAG: “In the case of the German doctor, I mediated between the ELN and the government.” SPD group foreign policy expert Gundram von Schenk, 56, conferred skilfully with Garcia. The ELN did not want to force any ransom payment. Garcia: “Dr. Broda was not working for any of the foreign companies who are exploiting our country.” It is the first time that no money has changed hands in such an action. Why did the release take so long?
Schenck: “The doctor was hidden in inaccessible jungle. And there were coordination problems among the guerrilla leaders.”
The rebels handed over the German doctor to Bishop Stehle on Friday evening. On a sports field in a small jungle town Dr. Broda threw his arms around the bishop’s neck and said: “Thank God it’s all over!”
He drove all night in a jeep through the mountains to the provincial town of Popayan where he was met by a member of the German embassy. Why is Mauss, the former German “007”, who is more used to hunting down criminals, now working for leftist guerrillas?
His answer: I would just like to help to bring an end to the 40 years of civil war in Colombia, and to help alleviate the poverty.