1977 Murder Revisited Former RAF Terrorist to Stand Trial

A German court has ordered Verena Becker, a former member of the far-left Red Army Faction, to be put on trial for alleged involvement in the murder of Attorney General Siegfried Buback in 1977. The case was re-opened after new forensic technology revealed her DNA on a letter claiming responsibility for the killing.

An undated mugshot of former terrorist Verena Becker from the 1970s.
DPA

An undated mugshot of former terrorist Verena Becker from the 1970s.


Verena Becker, a former member of the far-left Red Army Faction (RAF) which waged a campaign of terror in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, will be put on trial in September for alleged involvement in the murder of Attorney General Siegfried Buback in 1977, a higher regional court announced on Wednesday.

The case against Becker, 57, was re-opened in 2008 after newly available forensic technology detected her DNA on a letter by the RAF claiming responsibility for the murder.

Buback was killed together with his driver Wolfgang Göbel and a judicial officer, Georg Wurster, in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe when a motorbike pulled up alongside the car they were driving in and the passenger on the rear of the motorbike opened fire with an automatic weapon, shooting at least 15 times.

In an indictment issued in April this year, federal prosecutors accused Becker of being involved in the decision to assassinate Buback, in the planning and in preparing subsequent statements of responsibility.

The higher regional court in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany, said on Wednesday it was allowing the trial to go ahead with no changes to the indictment.

In and Out of Jail

Becker was arrested in May 1977 following a wild shootout with police. She was sentenced to life imprisonment for six counts of attempted murder in that shootout, not for involvement in the Buback murder. She was paroled in November 1989 and has been living quietly under a new identity.

She was arrested again at her home in the Berlin district of Zehlendorf last summer in connection with the Buback murder investigation. She was released from prison last December, but remained a suspect. The Federal Court of Justice ruled at the time that there was no danger she would try to flee the country.

The Red Army Faction, which was allied with Palestinian terrorists, killed 34 people and injured scores more in bomb attacks and assassinations targeting top German civil servants and corporate executives as well as US military installations.

The guerrilla campaign and the draconian security measures imposed by authorities in the manhunt deepened divisions between the left and right and plunged West Germany into a crisis of confidence at a time when it was still a young democracy, just three decades after World War II.

The RAF was bent on fighting "US imperialism" and overthrowing the West German elites. It declared in April 1998 that it had disbanded itself.

cro -- with wire reports

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