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Freedom for RAF Head

DW staff (cat)
December 19, 2008

Christian Klar, 56, a former leader of the Red Army Faction (RAF) urban terrorist movement in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, was released from jail Friday, justice officials in Stuttgart said.

Recent headshot of Christian Klar
Christian Klar was arraigned for his role as head of the RAF in the 70sImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Klar was granted parole by judges on November 24 after he had served 26 years of five concurrent life sentences. He had previously been denied parole, with a Stuttgart court ruling in 1998 that he needed to complete at least that much of his sentence.

One of the leading figures of the second generation of the left-wing group RAF, Klar was sentenced for his role in the kidnapping and murder of industry representative Hanns Martin Schleyer as well as the murders of Federal Prosecutor Siegfried Buback and Dresdner Bank CEO Juergen Ponto. He has not indicated remorse for the nine murders he was tried for and it remains unclear what his exact role was in those killings.

Klar has continued to observe a vow of silence taken among the group's members, refusing to disclose which of the masked figures committed the most brutal murders. Judges, however, have ruled that he no longer presents a danger to society.

Black and white image of a crime scene with a Mercedes
Klar was convicted of nine murders, some including high-profile victimsImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

Victims outraged at release

Some survivors of the RAF's brutalities said last month they were angry that life imprisonment did not mean the full term of Klar's life.

"It is intolerable that a violent criminal who caused people such immeasurable pain and has never distanced himself from his grave crimes will soon be given freedom," Hamburg's interior minister, Christoph Ahlhaus, said after learning of Klar's impending release.

Judges said in November that Klar, who served longer in jail than any other RAF member, should be freed on or around January 3, 2009. Possibly to thwart media attention, the precise date was not announced in advance.

Second last RAF member to leave jail

Heinz-Juergen Schneider, his lawyer, said Klar had left the jail during the morning and would not be giving any interviews.

"He is going to decide himself what he will be doing and where," said Schneider.

There is only one RAF member still in jail: Birgit Hogefeld, 52. She was a third-generation leader of the violent communist group, which dissolved itself in 1998.

A feature film released this year, The Baader-Meinhof Complex, depicts murders and robberies carried out by the clandestine group.

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