(WASHINGTON) — A bizarre murder case involving a German expatriate who claims to be an Iraqi general and the death of his 91-year-old wife is now further complicated by the fact that the defendant is refusing to eat.
Albrecht Muth, 48, was supposed to stand trial Wednesday for the murder of his wife, Viola Drath. Instead, he is lying in a Washington hospital nearly starved to death, prompting a judge to indefinitely postpone the case due to his poor health condition.
Lying completely reposed in a hospital bed for his first and only interview since his arrest, Muth told ABC’s Martha Raddatz that he is not on a hunger strike but is fasting for religious reasons.
“I’m opposed to killing myself, I’m a Roman Catholic,” says Muth, who adds that he will eat again when he is “commanded or permitted to.”
Muth’s strange behavior started well before he was implicated in his wife’s murder. He has a reputation in Washington as a sort of con man.
He was known for hosting parties to which he invited numerous luminaries and government officials, such as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Ambassador Anne Patterson, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, and Gen. Peter Chiarelli, as well as journalists, including Raddatz and CBS’ David Martin.
Muth would send invitations featuring a guest of honor, who was usually a visiting Iraqi official; and upon arrival, guests would be escorted to a basement dining room only to be informed by Muth, who was often dressed as an Iraqi general, that the guest of honor would not be able to make it. (Raddatz once attended a dinner at Muth’s house and left early after sensing it was a scam.)
Another habit of Muth’s was to regularly send elaborate emails to journalists and government officials making it appear he had senior contacts within the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, when in reality he did not.
Muth says he did not kill his wife, to whom he was married for 22 years, calling himself a “convenient suspect.” Muth has been accused of previous incidents of violence toward Drath and even acknowledges a specific assault in 1992.
“I have no recollection, it was a bad moment, but it is correct,” Muth says of assaulting Drath.
Muth maintains that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who he says had a key to their house, murdered his late wife.
Detectives did not initially expect foul play when Drath was found dead in her Georgetown home on August 12, 2011, but the medical examiner discovered that she had been strangled to death after finding bruising and broken cartilage in her neck.
Muth says he was out of the house the night she was killed and only discovered her after returning to the home at 10 a.m. the next morning.
Muth, who still insists that he is legitimately connected to the Iraqi military, is transparent about one thing: his lack of affection for his late wife, which he characterized as a “marriage of convenience.”
“She provided the stage, I the play,” says Muth of his marriage to Drath.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Andreas Preuss and Joe Sutton, CNN
Dave Gilbert, CNN
Sugam Pokharel and Tim Hume, CNN
Ralph Ellis and Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN