A man goes to jail for a murder he did not commit, to protect the woman he loved, who also happens to be the real killer. Sound like a plot worthy of Rainer Werner Fassbinder?
In fact, it’s one of Fassbinder’s former actors who is playing the part in real life.
Guenther Kaufmann — a 57-year-old thesp who has appeared in Fassbinder’s “The Marriage of Maria Braun,” “Berlin Alexanderplatz” and “Veronika Voss” — is on trial for a second time for the 2001 killing of Munich accountant Hartmut Hagen, a family friend.
In the first trial, Kaufmann plead guilty to the murder. But after 33 months in prison, he now insists he’s innocent.
Kaufmann’s initial confession led to a 15-year prison term, but while he was incarcerated, police arrested three other men, who were also convicted of the Munich murder. Authorities also determined that Kaufmann’s late wife Alexandra had likely been involved in the killing, driven by debts she owed Hagen.
Alexandra Kaufmann, however, died of a long-term illness before she could be tried. It was his wife’s critical health, Kaufmann argues now, that moved him to take the rap and keep her out of prison.
An Augsburg court is now looking to see if Kaufmann was in any way involved in the crime.