German court paroles former RAF terrorist after 24 years

12th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

12 February 2007, Stuttgart, Germany (dpa) - A German court ordered Monday that Brigitte Mohnhaupt, 57, one of the "second-generation" leaders of the Red Army Faction (RAF) leftist terrorist group, be paroled after 24 years in custody. The RAF campaign of bombings, kidnappings and assassinations 30 years ago created one of Germany's worst modern political crises. Conservative Germans had voiced anger in recent weeks that prosecutors were calling for her punishment to be commuted. She has never apologized f

12 February 2007

Stuttgart, Germany (dpa) - A German court ordered Monday that Brigitte Mohnhaupt, 57, one of the "second-generation" leaders of the Red Army Faction (RAF) leftist terrorist group, be paroled after 24 years in custody.

The RAF campaign of bombings, kidnappings and assassinations 30 years ago created one of Germany's worst modern political crises.

Conservative Germans had voiced anger in recent weeks that prosecutors were calling for her punishment to be commuted. She has never apologized for her crimes. When she leaves jail on March 27, only three other RAF figures will remain in custody.

Fears have been voiced that she might return to her personal "war" against the state, as she did in 1977 after a five-year jail term.

The original RAF leaders, Ulrike Meinhof, Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin, had committed suicide in jail in 1976 and 1977, and Mohnhaupt was part of the new leadership, taking the former "Baader-Meinhof Gang" to a worse level of brutality.

During 1977 she took part in the murders of Hanns-Martin Schleyer, head of the German employers' federation, and Siegfried Buback, federal prosecutor general. She personally shot dead Juergen Ponto, chief executive of Dresdner Bank. She was not captured until 1982.

The state superior court in Stuttgart said Monday, "Taking public safety into account, the court has decided parole is proper."

It added that it saw no evidence she was "still dangerous." Her parole is not permanent, but initially lasts for five years. She will have a probation officer and must regularly report to the police.

The petite blonde joined the RAF at age 21: "Her life since has been only two states, in the underground or in jail," said Wolfgang Kraushaar, a scholar who has studied the RAF. Mohnhaupt has yet to develop any adult identity separate from the RAF, he said.

The RAF, made up of middle-class students and intellectuals, believed that killing top Germans would lead to a police state, which was "good" because it would persuade the working class to revolt. But West Germany kept democracy. The RAF dissolved itself in the 1990s.

Konrad Freiberg, president of the German police union GDP, said his members felt somewhat bitter at her release, as she had murdered nine German police and one Dutch policeman during her crime spree.

But Klaus Uwe Benneter, a senior Social Democratic supporter of Chancellor Angela Merkel, welcomed her release, telling NTV television that German law prescribed parole for good behaviour.

"We have always said we have no political prisoners in Germany, so we have to treat her the same as any other criminal," he said.

At trial she was convicted of leading the appalling abduction of Schleyer, who was murdered weeks later by his captors. She is serving five concurrent life terms and a 15-year term with a rider that she serve at least 24 years, a period that will expire on March 26.

Jailers at Aichach Prison in Bavaria say she has been pleasant and well-behaved and has made nine excursions under guard to see the outside world.

The other three members of the RAF still in custody are Christian Klar, 54, who was Mohnhaupt's co-leader, Eva Sybille Haule, 52, and Birgit Hogefeld, 50. Klar has applied to German President Horst Koehler for clemency. His first chance for parole is in 2009.

DPA

Subject: German news

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