Red Army Faction boss to be freed
24 November 2008
A German court has approved the release from jail of a leader of a
radical leftist group involved in high-profile killings in the 1970s
Red Army Faction leader Christian Klar, aged 56, is serving five life
terms but will have served the minimum required 26 years by January.
The court in Stuttgart said there were no grounds to keep him in custody.
The group, also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang, targeted bankers,
businessmen, judges and US servicemen.
More than 30 people were killed by the gang, before it disbanded 10 years ago.
"A major consideration was the question of whether it could be feared
that Christian Klar would commit significant criminal acts again,"
but the judges decided there was no evidence he would, the court said
in a statement.
It said that Klar would remain on probation for five years after his release.
Klar was arrested in 1982 and later convicted of nine murders and 11
It is the brutality of the Red Army Faction's crimes which shocked
the public, the BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Berlin says.
Along with the principal targets of their terror, bodyguards and
drivers were gunned down.
In one case, the head of a bank was assassinated at his home, after
being presented with a bunch of flowers by the killers.
This year's film - The Baader Meinhof Complex - by Uli Edel, has been
named as Germany's official entry for the 2009 foreign language film Oscar.
Germany to free Baader-Meinhof fighter
STUTTGART, Germany (AFP) One of two members still in prison from
the left-wing Red Army Faction that terrorised West Germany in the
1970s will be freed in January after 26 years behind bars, a court
ruled on Monday.
Christian Klar, in jail since 1982, will be freed on parole on
January 3 after serving the minimum 26 years of his life sentence on
nine counts of murder and 11 counts of attempted murder, the court in
Klar, now 56, is one of only two surviving members of the RAF -- also
known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang after two of its founders, Andreas
Baader and Ulrike Meinhof -- still in jail.
"The court sees it as a heavy burden for his victims and his families
that the convicted man has yet to distance himself from his serious
crimes. But on the decisive question of whether (Klar) will commit
other serious crimes this was not deemed ... to be decisive," the
court said in a statement.
It also said that although Klar continued to make public comments
that are "extremely critical" of German society, his behaviour is
"completely changed (and) constructive" and he has "unequivocally ...
distanced himself from the 'armed struggle'."
The RAF grew out of the 1960s civil rights movement, declaring war on
what it said was a morally bankrupt West German state run by former
Nazis, carrying out a wave of assassinations, bombings and
kidnappings from 1970 onwards.
After Baader, Meinhof and other founder members were arrested in
1972, Klar and Brigitte Mohnhaupt took over the leadership of the
group and embarked on a campaign of terror that shook West Germany to
On April 7, 1977 they murdered federal prosecutor Siegfried Buback,
shot dead by a man on a motorbike with a machine gun along with his
driver and a colleague while his Mercedes waited at traffic lights.
On July 30, RAF militants including Klar killed the chairman of
Dresdner Bank, Juergen Ponto, in a shooting outside his house near
Frankfurt in a failed kidnap attempt.
Then in a raid in September they abducted industrialist Hanns Martin
Schleyer, a former member of the Nazi SS, killing his driver and
three others in the process.
Meinhof had been found hanged in her prison cell in 1976 but the
kidnappers demanded the release of Baader and the other leaders
Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe or they would kill Schleyer.
A month later the RAF hijacked a Lufthansa passenger plane with the
help of Palestinian militants, diverting it to the Somali capital
Mogadishu where it was stormed by elite German commandos on October 17.
The next morning Baader and fellow founding members Ensslin and Raspe
were found dead in their cells -- sparking conspiracy theories that
they were murdered -- and on October 19 the RAF killed Schleyer.
Many RAF members went underground in communist East Germany, but Klar
stayed in the West, taking part in the near-fatal 1981 attack on the
head of US forces in Europe, General Frederick Kroesen, using a
Soviet anti-tank missile.
Police finally caught up with him in November 1982, arresting him in
woods near Hamburg, aged 30 but looking gaunt and considerably older.
He then spent seven years in solitary confinement in different top
Mohnhaupt, who led the RAF with Klar after the group's original
leaders were imprisoned, was released from prison in March 2007 after
serving 24 years for her role in nine murders.
The group, which is believed to have killed a total of 34 people,
abandoned violence in 1992 and formally disbanded in 1998.
In May 2007 German President Horst Koehler refused to pardon Klar or
Birgit Hogefeld, the two remaining RAF members still in prison.
Hogefeld is not eligible for release until 2011.
Four RAF members have never been caught: Friederike Krabbe, part of
Klar's "second generation," as well as Daniela Klette, Ernst-Volker
Staub and Burkhard Garweg, members of the third and final wave.
Krabbe, who is accused of involvement in Schleyer's kidnap and
murder, was last reported to have been seen in Baghdad in 2003.
Last 'Red Army Faction' leader to be freed on parole
DEREK SCALLY in Berlin
November 25, 2008
THE LAST ringleader of the Baader-Meinhof guerrilla gang is to be
released on parole in January after 26 years behind bars.
Christian Klar was a member of the so-called "second generation" of
the extreme left gang also known as the "Red Army Faction", and was
involved in the killing of Dresdner Bank chairman Jürgen Ponto and
state prosecutor Siegfried Buback.
He helped to organise the so-called "German Autumn" campaign of 1977
to pressurise the West German government to release from prison Red
Army ringleaders Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ennslin.
The Red Army Faction emerged as a violent offshoot of the 1968
student movement, protesting against US actions in Vietnam and
elsewhere and the perceived failure by the West German state to
address its Nazi past adequately.
Klar was one of the few Red Army members not to go underground in
East Germany after the ringleaders killed themselves in prison in 1977.
Although the Red Army continued officially for another 21 years,
finally disbanding in 1998, its energy was spent. After organising
some unsuccessful attacks on US and Nato targets, Klar was captured
in 1982. He was sentenced to life imprisonment three years later on
nine counts of murder and 11 counts of attempted murder.
He was last seen in public in a 2002 television interview, rejecting
the idea of feeling guilt for his actions. "In the political sphere,
against the background of our battle, that's no way to talk," he
said. "I'll leave the feelings to the other side and respect their
feelings but they're not my feelings."
That lack of remorse prompted German president Horst Köhler to reject
his application for clemency last year.
A Stuttgart court yesterday noted that Klar's failure to show remorse
remained "a heavy burden on the victims and their relatives". However
it awarded the five-year parole, saying there were "no indications of
the convict's continued danger".
Fellow gang member Brigitte Mohnhaupt, leader of the second
generation, was released last year and is now believed to be working
in a Bremen kindergarten.
The director of the Berliner Ensemble, Claus Peymann, has offered
Klar an internship as stage assistant at the theatre founded by
Bertolt Brecht in 1949.
Parole for German terrorist angers victims
Victims of German leftist terror group the Red Army Faction have
reacted angrily to the news that one of its former leaders is to be
given parole. A court in Stuttgart has ruled that Christian Klar, who
has spent 26 years in prison for murder, will be released on parole
in January. "In agreement with experts and the prison authorities,
the Senate has no reason to believe the prisoner poses a continued
danger to society," a court spokeswoman said. Klar was convicted in
1985 of involvement in 20 murders and attempted murders in the 1970s.
These included the killings of senior German industry figures and
public officials. One of the RAF's victims criticised the decision as
a slap in the face to those who suffered.