German court expected to rule on Red Army parole

A German court is today expected to decide whether to parole one of the last jailed members of the Red Army Faction – a case that has helped revive painful memories of the left-wing terrorist group’s 1970s heyday.

Brigitte Mohnhaupt, 57, has petitioned to be released in late March after serving 24 years of a life sentence for multiple murders. At a closed hearing in January at the Stuttgart state court, prosecutors supported her bid.

Mohnhaupt was convicted in 1985 of involvement in nine murders, including those of West German chief federal prosecutor Siegfried Buback and of Hanns-Martin Schleyer, the head of the country’s industry federation. She was given five life sentences on the murder charges and lesser counts.

The Stuttgart court last year rejected an earlier Mohnhaupt petition for freedom on the grounds that she must serve at least 24 years.

Mohnhaupt’s latest bid comes at the same time as a separate petition for clemency from Germany’s president by another convicted Red Army Faction member, Christian Klar. Klar still has two years to serve before qualifying for possible parole.

While some say Mohnhaupt and Klar, like other convicted murderers, have a right to parole under German law, others want to see expressions of remorse and clarification of open questions over who actually pulled the trigger in the murders of Buback, Schleyer and others.

During the “German Autumn” of 1977, the radical left-wing group left a trail of death as it fought to bring down a state it viewed as a capitalist oppressor.

Mohnhaupt was considered part of the hard core of the Red Army Faction in its campaign against the West German establishment and Nato. The group officially disbanded in 1998.

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