German court OKs release of ex-leftist terrorist

/ Source: The Associated Press

A former top member of the leftist Red Army Faction terrorist group can be released from prison in January after having served 26 years for multiple murders, a German court ruled Monday.

The Red Army Faction, which emerged from German student protests against the Vietnam War, is blamed for killing 34 people before disbanding in 1998. It subscribed to Marxist-Leninist ideology and sought to overthrow the capitalist West German government and fight perceived U.S. imperialism.

The Stuttgart state court ruled that it found no grounds for Christian Klar, 56, to remain behind bars any longer, spokeswoman Josefine Koeblitz said. After his Jan. 3 release he will remain on probation for five years, the court ruled.

The judges found "no evidence of a continued threat," Koeblitz said.

The court said Klar had shown himself "completely changed," urging against armed struggle.

But Germany's police union decried the decision, citing Klar's lack of remorse.

"As a police officer who lived through the time of the RAF terrorism and witnessed how people were brutally killed and seriously injured, today I feel deep bitterness," said union head Konrad Freiberg.

"Christian Klar has not yet either said he regretted his actions nor distanced himself from his motives. On such a day my thoughts are with the families of all victims of RAF violence."

Son urges father to reveal all
Klar was convicted of involvement in nine murders, including those of federal prosecutor Siegfried Buback, industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer and Dresdner Bank chief Juergen Ponto — all in 1977, when the movement was at its peak.

He was sentenced to six concurrent life sentences, as well as individual 15-, 14- and 12-year sentences.

Before the ruling, Buback's son Michael called on Klar to divulge all the details of the killing, including who fired the fatal shots.

"We want to learn the truth about this crime," the younger Buback told WDR television on Monday.

In Germany, many people serve less than 20 years for life sentences and Klar will be the latest of several former members of the Red Army Faction to be released on parole.

Eva Haule, convicted in the murder of a U.S. soldier and the bombing of an American military base, was released in August 2007 after serving 21 years.

Five months before that, Brigitte Mohnhaupt was released after 25 years in prison for her involvement in some of the group's most notorious murders in the late 1970s.

Both were put on probation for five years, meaning that the prison sentences will be reinstated if they commit another crime.