Niece of German IRA victim to speak at Stormont

Heidi Hazell was murdered by the IRA in west Germany in 1989
Heidi Hazell was murdered by the IRA in west Germany in 1989

The niece of a German woman murdered by the IRA in 1989 is set to address a meeting in Stormont on Monday in a bid to have her aunt’s murder case reopened in Germany.

Melanie Anan, 41, from Bremen in Germany, said she and her husband Joseph also intend to meet with the PSNI to discuss the murder.

She said the murder of her 26-year-old aunt on September 7, 1989 “brought terror to her family”.

Heidi Hazell, who was the German wife of British Army sergeant Clive Hazell, was killed outside her married quarters in Unna-Massen, a Dortmund suburb.

She was murdered when a man in British Army fatigues approached her car as she was parking and pumped 12 bullets from a Kalashnikov into her upper body.

The following day the IRA claimed responsibility for her murder. In a statement the organisation said she had been mistaken for a soldier.

“They (IRA) said they mistakenly thought she was a soldier. So they decided it was time for her life to end.”

Melanie Anan, niece of Heidi Hazell

Mrs Anan forwarded a series of emails to the News Letter from her husband and from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in which the republican leader was asked to provide information relating to Heidi’s murder.

The email requesting information was sent to Mr Adams on February 16.

In his return email of February 23, Mr Adams writes: “I regret to say that neither I nor Sinn Féin has any information in relation to the incident in September 1989 in which Mrs Hazell was killed.”

Referring to the September 1989 statement from the IRA after the murder, Mr Adams writes: “In its September 1989 statement the IRA acknowledges that it carried out the attack in which Mrs Hazell, a non-combatant, was killed.

“In July 2002, as an important contribution to the peace process, it offered its ‘sincere apologies and condolences’ to the families of all of those non-combatants who were killed or injured by it during the years of war.

“I believe all families have the right to closure in respect of their loved ones.”

Mrs Anan remembers her aunt Heidi as being “a funny and bubbly person, where if there was any disagreement amongst people or anger she would come in and take it away”.

“They (IRA) said they mistakenly thought she was a soldier,” she said. “So they decided it was time for her life to end.

“It was awful for our family. It was so shocking. You don’t think anything like that can happen.

“In Germany you had the news and it was an awful thing to watch when you saw the troubles and bombs and police and riots in Northern Ireland.

“We always thought it was so horrible and it was so shocking that people who were oppressed would come and murder innocent people in Germany.”

Mrs Anan, a mother-of-five, said since her aunt’s death her family has been “imprisoned by our feelings”.

“It is very difficult to describe but that is one of those things that never leaves you.

“It is the kind of pain that doesn’t go away no matter how many band aids you find or how much medicine you take, it is always there.”

She said the view of her family was not that the IRA wanted to kill a member of the British military but “to create terror and have this embedded in people’s minds”.

“They were successful with that regarding our family and people involved with Heidi,” she said.

“It is like a nightmare that you never wake up out of. But I want to be sure that Heidi’s story is heard and that the people involved in murdering her know that we care and that this is definitely not over.”

The Stormont event, in the Senate Chamber at Parliament Buildings, is being hosted by MLA Jim Allister and marks the annual European Union memorial day for the victims of terrorist attacks.

Melanie said the push to get her aunt Heidi Hazell’s murder case reopened by the German police “is going well”.

She said after an appeal was launched for information “a lot of people have come forward”.

Mrs Anan, who is to address the European Day for Victims of Terrorism at Stormont today, hopes to see questions asked of IRA members operating in Germany at the time of her aunt’s murder.

She said she agreed with recent comments made by a Catholic cardinal – New York-based Timothy Dolan – who compared the IRA to the Islamic State terror group.

“I agree that the IRA can be compared to IS,” she said. She said that whilst she is on the side of the underdog and “I understand why people have to fight for their rights”, she added that you cannot achieve your goal “by murdering people”.