Ex-Terrorist to Go Free: Court Orders Release of RAF Klar

Christian Klar has served 26 years for his role in the murders carried out by the far-left RAF terror group in the 1970s. A Stuttgart Court ruled on Monday that Klar can leave jail in January. He will remain on parole for five years.

One of the last of the Baader-Meinhof gang still locked up for the group's 1970s terror spree is to be released. Formerly a leading member of the Red Army Faction, Christian Klar will be a free man in 2009. A court in Stuttgart ruled that he can be released on Jan. 3 after serving the minimum 26 years of a life sentence for multiple murders committed during the bloody heyday of the West German terror group.

Former RAF leader Christian Klar.
AP

Former RAF leader Christian Klar.

In 1985 Klar was found guilty on nine counts of murder and 11 counts of attempted murder. The court said that 56-year-old Klar will remain on parole for five years from his release date. Court spokeswoman Josefine Koeblitz said that there were no grounds for keeping Klar in jail any longer and that was unlikely to reoffend.

In 2007 German President Hors Köhler decided against granting Klar clemency after he failed to show remorse for his deeds. The president said at the time that he believed in forgiveness but that it requires regret. "Mr. Klar could demonstrate regret by helping with investigation, by providing details," Köhler told Die Welt newspaper.

Klar, who has failed to cooperate with investigations into the murders committed by the RAF, had severely damaged his chances of early release when he sent a message to a left-wing conference in which he called for the "defeat of capitalism."

Klar was one of the leading members of the RAF, a communist guerrilla group also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang, that emerged from the 1968 student protest movement. The left-wing terrorists were committed to combating "capitalist imperialism" and rooting former Nazis out of what it considered to be morally corrupt West German society.

A total of 34 people were killed by the RAF, mainly members of the West German financial and political elite. Its activities reached a high poin in 1977, with the kidnapping and murder of German Employers Association President Hanns-Martin Schleyer, in which Klar was involved. The group's victims also included German Chief Federal Prosecutor Siegfried Buback and Dresdener Bank CEO Jürgen Ponto. The group's exploits were recently depicted in the "Baader-Meinhof Complex" movie.

Last March another leading RAF member, Brigitte Mohnhaupt, was released after spending 24 years in jail. In August 2007 Eve Heule was freed after serving 21 years for murder. After Klar leaves prison in January, Birgit Hogefeld will be the only RAF member still serving time.

smd -- with wire reports

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