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Far-left RAF terror suspect Daniela Klette appears in court

March 7, 2024

Germany prosectors say Daniela Klette, a member of Germany's far-left extremist Red Army Fraction, has appeared in court. The charges pertain to her decades on the run after the RAF declared itself disbanded.

Former RAF terrorist Daniela Klette is led to a helicopter
After appearing in court, Klette was returned by helicopter to Lower Saxony where she is being held in custodyImage: Uli Deck/dpa/picture alliance

Daniela Klette, a member of the notorious Red Army Faction (RAF) terror group, made a preliminary appearance at the country's Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe on Thursday, a spokesperson for Germany's Attorney General said.

The 65-year-old, who was detained last week in Berlin after decades on the run, faces charges of armed robbery and attempted murder committed between 1999 and 2016. She was one of a trio that police had been hunting for decades.

What happened at the court

Police were seen escorting a handcuffed woman out of a blue federal police helicopter outside the court, where Klette appeared before a judge.

The court issued a long-standing detention order over allegations of her involvement in attacks by the RAF in the 1990s.

At the same time, an investigation is underway against Klette in Verden, in the state of Lower Saxony, for a series of robberies of money transporters and supermarkets between 1999 and 2016. The Verden public prosecutor's office is also investigating at least one charge of attempted murder against Klette and her alleged accomplices Burkhard Garweg and Ernst-Volker Staub.

After her court appearance, Klette was returned by helicopter to Lower Saxony, where she is currently being held.

One man arrested at the same time as Klette was later released after not being identified as one of the other two suspects.

After a television program recently profiled the case, investigators in Lower Saxony — where many of the robberies took place — said they had received 161 tips about the suspects' potential whereabouts.

What did the RAF terror group do?

The three are said to have belonged to the so-called third generation of the RAF, also known as the Baader-Meinhof group

In the 1970s and 1980s, the RAF conducted a campaign of terror in then-West Germany through attacks and kidnappings, with a total of more than 30 murders attributed to the group. Authorities say the RAF was responsible for wounding another 200 people. 

Former German terrorist arrested in Berlin

The group's activities reached a peak during the so-called German Autumn of 1977 when there was a major manhunt for RAF members.

The RAF's victims included West German Attorney General Siegfried Buback, Dresdner Bank boss Jürgen Ponto, Deutsche Bank chairman Alfred Herrhausen, business executive Hans Martin Schleyer and senior West German diplomat Gerold von Braunmühl.

The RAF declared itself disbanded in 1998, and there is no evidence that the former terrorist organization is still active.

Police and special armed units stormed the western German city of Wuppertal's central train station earlier this month after receiving a tip suggesting former left-wing terrorist Ernst-Volker Staub may have been sighted on a train there. Authorities said there had been a false alarm and that the initial suspicions about the man's identity had not been confirmed.

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rc/ab (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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