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Husband of post-war journalism legend charged with her murder

The Local · 19 Aug 2011, 15:11

Published: 19 Aug 2011 15:11 GMT+02:00

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Hours after her body was found, Drath’s husband Albrecht Muth, 47, approached her family with a signed document which appeared to say he would be entitled to up to $200,000 from her estate if she died – a document which police say is a fake.

He was remanded in custody by a court on Wednesday after the judge heard that Muth – who is German but portrays himself as a high-ranking Iraqi soldier and sometime secret agent – had scratches on his face consistent with someone fighting against him.

Drath, a former long-term correspondent for the Handelsblatt and contributor to the Washington Post as well as author of a number of books, was a well-regarded society figure in political circles of the US capital, writing about trans-Atlantic relations and socialising with figures such as Henry Kissinger.

Her marriage to Muth in 1990 has been described in the Washington Post as plagued by infidelity and allegations of violence.

Drath had filed protective orders against him over the last 20 years, telling police in 2006 that he had hit her over the head with a chair, smashed her head on the floor and kept her in the house so she could not summon help. He was charged with assault but charges were dropped because she decided not to pursue the case, the Post reported.

Muth himself was a more than eccentric figure, claiming for years to be a brigadier general in the Iraqi army, and using his wife’s political and diplomatic connections to host political thinkers and journalists at dinners disguised as official Iraqi events. At times he would wear an eye-patch to parties.

“Journalists were lured with promises of hobnobbing with high-ranking members of the Iraqi military,” the Post wrote.

“Muth would don official-looking Iraqi uniforms, signed his e-mails with the title of staff brigadier general and frequently contacted the media – including several Post reporters and editors – claiming inside information about the Iraq war,” the paper wrote.

He would start phone conversations with one reporter by introducing himself as, “Brigadier General Muth here,” and end them saying, “We didn’t talk. Good day.”

A statement from the Iraqi embassy read, “We are deeply troubled by Mr Muth’s claim of his service in the Iraqi military. He is not currently and has never been a member of the Iraqi Army. He does not represent the Embassy, its attaches, the government of Iraq or any government institute in any fashion. In the past, the Embassy was aware of the claims made by Mr Muth and made it clear to all concerned that they were false and demanded that they must cease.”

He has stuck to his story, suggesting to Vice President Biden’s office in an email that his wife may have been killed by a professional working for Iran, the Post reported.

Before being charged, Muth gave an interview to the Associated Press saying he found his wife dead in the bathroom on Friday. Yet he submitted an obituary for her to the Post on Saturday, describing her cause of death as a head injury suffered when she fell, and that she died on Thursday. Her body was not found until Friday, while police say her injuries were not consistent with a fall.

The Handelsblatt wrote in an obituary that Drath had reported from the US for the newspaper for 27 years, initially about the art market, and then on foreign and security affairs. She had married the American military governor of part of Bavaria, Colonel Francis Drath, in 1947 and soon moved to the US with him. There she studied and became a journalist. They moved to Washington together to further both of their careers, before he died in 1986.

She garnered high-octane praise for her 1975 biography of former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt. Author Norman Mailer said it was the best book about Brandt, while former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said it was a ‘must-read’. She took part in the discussions of Kissinger’s National Committee on American Foreign Policy and even advised President George Bush senior on European matters.

Story continues below…

The paper told how in 1988 she submitted a paper to the American Foreign Policy Newsletter detailing how negotiations over German reunification would eventually be held in a two-plus-four formulation – the two German states, plus the four former Allies. At the time German reunification seemed to be only a very distant possibility, but two years later exactly that was taking place.

Friends have told newspapers over the last few days that they had warned her against her husband. Her two daughters from her first marriage released a statement.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our mother and grandmother, Viola Drath. Her intelligence, independence and grace remained intact to the end. Our family is incredibly appreciative of the excellent work of the Metropolitan Police Department," it said.

Muth is due to appear before court on September 2.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:04 August 19, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
Her Husband is 40 years younger than her, and he plays dress up in public? He "portrays himself" as a high-ranking Iraqi soldier? Obviously the red flags are there for a man with a screw loose. If he did, in fact, hurt a 91 year old woman, he deserves to rot in jail.
20:58 August 19, 2011 by Klaipeda
Why a "high ranking Iraqi soldier".? He looks more like a war criminal on the American Joint Chiefs of staff that lied about nuclear weapons being in Iraq and then murdered 1.3 million Iraqis when they attacked the country. Lies and murder - the American foreign policy.

I guess you side with the war criminals.
22:07 August 19, 2011 by DOZ
(1 years old. Why didn't he just wait a couple of years. She would have died of old age.
22:39 August 19, 2011 by finanzdoktor
Have to agree with both Jack Kerouac and Klaipeda.

By the way, believe you meant to say in your article: "Before being charged, MUTH (emphasis added) gave an interview to the Associated Press saying he found his wife dead in the bathroom on Friday."
22:56 August 19, 2011 by zeddriver

After all the abuse at the hands of this Muth nut job husband.

I would imagine that he was long ago removed from her will. He did produce a FALSE document saying he was allowed to have $200.000 upon her death.


Interesting segway. A crazy German guy kills his well respected German wife. And somehow it turns into an anti American post.
12:58 August 20, 2011 by HansT

I think that should be "segue"... A Segway is an electric two-wheeled people carrier.

Nonetheless, your point is well taken. Everything is America's fault, isn't it?
14:49 August 20, 2011 by zeddriver

Opps! Thanks for the correction.
15:32 August 20, 2011 by c12dat

Man, you are way too funny. But thank you for the laugh.
15:50 August 20, 2011 by storymann
Weird from the start, a hate fest.

She marries a man 40 years her junior and he marries 40 years his senior.

His motive is clear,money and a chance to flaunt his bizarre behavior.Her motive is turbid,abuse and infidelity. It could easily be concluded that they both were in need of treatment.
04:24 August 22, 2011 by vonSchwerin
"Author Norman Mailer said it was the best book about Brandt"

How many books about Willy Brandt has Norman Mailer read? Since when does he count as an expect on German history and politics?
06:43 August 22, 2011 by Shirazz
If a man of 80 years marry a woman of 40 I don't think general people will think of them as needing therapy. But when it's the other way round many may see it as unhealthy.

I think more important than the age difference (and I mean in the case of mutual mature ages - not 50 with 16) is the motive of the couple.

Intellectual people can get as lonely and need companionship as non-intellectual ones, and they too can fall into unforeseen traps, but after some time if one begins to see the warning signs of danger in the relationship, both physical and emotional, as well as the wrong motives, not to mention the bizarre behavior of the partner, then one should get out before....it's too late.

It's better (and safer) to be lonely alone than to be lonely in a disastrous relationship.
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