Germany orders leftist ex-terrorists rearrested
A German federal magistrate has ordered the arrest of two former left-wing terrorists in a bid to force them to name their accomplices during a 1977 assassination, prosecutors said.
4 January 2008
Karlsruhe, Germany (dpa) - A German federal magistrate has ordered the arrest of two former left-wing terrorists in a bid to force them to name their accomplices during a 1977 assassination, prosecutors announced Thursday.
Brigitte Mohnhaupt, 58, a leader of the Red Army Faction (RAF), was released on parole less than a year ago.
She and Knut Folkerts, 56, who was paroled in 1995, had both been sentenced to life for joining in the murder by a masked motorcycle pillion rider of Siegfried Buback, a former German federal prosecutor-general.
However neither faces immediate arrest, since the order, made in the southern justice capital of Karlsruhe, gave them leave to appeal and was frozen for the time being.
Mohnhaupt, Folkerts and a former RAF leader who is still in jail, Christian Klar, 55, would be imprisoned for contempt if the arrest order is upheld.
German law provides for up to six months custody to force people to cooperate with the law.
Although the RAF dissolved itself in the 1990s and practically all of its surviving members have served long jail terms, the ex-terrorists still refuse to disclose exactly how they operated and only grudgingly admit any regrets.
After ex-terrorists gave news interviews last year hinting that one of the masked motorcycle riders was never brought to justice, federal prosecutors reopened the inquiry, but 11 of the leftists refused to answer questions.
The terrorists were convicted of collectively murdering Buback and cannot be re-tried, but prosecutors - wanting to help relatives of the dead man achieve closure - want to know if any accomplice got away with a lesser conviction.
Michael Buback, son of the victim, said Thursday he doubted much would discovered this way.
But German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble welcomed the ruling, saying the prosecutors were doing their job.
There were suggestions last year that another man, or another woman member, of the gang wielded the gun.
The magistrate has refused a request for custody in contempt for yet another ex-RAF man, Guenter Sonnenberg, on the grounds that he has a constitutional right to refuse testimony that might incriminate himself.
It was now possible that Sonnenberg, who was never brought to trial in the Buback case and is now free, might be charged with a joint role in the murder, officials said.
The agony of 1977, when assassinations and kidnappings by RAF urban guerrillas reached a peak, continues to transfix Germany, with a substantial number of people from the same generation regarding the underground killers as flawed heroes.
The RAF, dubbed the Baader-Meinhof Gang in its original incarnation, dreamed of making Germany a communist state and believed it could provoke a revolution by its campaign of violence against business and political leaders.
Buback was shot dead in Karlsruhe in his chauffeur-driven car along with two staff.