Germany's Secret Baader-Meinhof Files Prosecutors Revisit Notorious 1977 Assassination
Part 4: 'I Have No Real Feeling for Guilt'
Then-Federal Prosecutor General Kurt Rebmann did not forget about Becker, however. In 1989, Rebmann recommended her for pardon, which was granted. Hence Becker's cooperation with the authorities paid off for her in the end. The fact that she had talked to the intelligence services, which secured her release after only 12 years, remained a secret until SPIEGEL's revelations in April 2007.
After that, it seemed that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution was sitting on the Becker statements, and had, with the help of Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who blocked the release of the files, hindered further investigations. Finally, in July 2007, federal prosecutors were permitted to read the original 200-page dossier. They were even allowed to take away a copy of the 82-page memorandum. As late as December 2008, Federal Prosecutor General Monika Harms declared that Becker was not under renewed suspicion. Nevertheless, an embargo remained on any use of the file in court proceedings.
Now the picture has changed. The new DNA evidence, as well as the recently seized notes by Becker to herself, are very likely to result in proceedings against her. In a scrawled note on a piece of paper found by investigators in her home, Becker wonders "how I should pray for Mr. Buback." A few lines later, it reads: "I have no real feeling for guilt." The note is dated April 7, 2009 -- the 32nd anniversary of Buback's death.
Federal prosecutors interpret the document as a confession. However Becker, after her arrest, gave a different explanation for her words. She claims the "Mr Buback" in her note is Michael Buback, the son, not Siegfried Buback, the late father. She also said that the reason she is preoccupied with the notion of guilt is that her name is permanently linked to the crime. To advance their case against Becker, investigators have referred to a note that she made during a train journey in April 2007 in which she wrote that she was meditating for "a new beginning." Becker's lawyer, Walter Venedey, argues that the evidence is "totally inadequate."
Last week, federal prosecutors applied for the release of the 82-page memorandum. Schäuble had signaled within the federal government that he would release the file. Observers believed that he would not want to look like someone with something to hide -- least of all during an election campaign and in relation to a period for which he is not responsible. But then came the Interior Ministry's announcement on Tuesday that it would not open up the files. Since then, prosecutors have said that the limited access to the files that Schäuble is prepared to grant them is not sufficient and have once again demanded that the files be released so that their contents can be used in court.
It is still unclear if the explosive documents will be made public in the end or not. On Thursday, Wolfgang Bosbach, the CDU's deputy floor leader, suggested that the files might be released after all if the case goes to trial and described Schäuble's decision as "preliminary."
However it is debatable whether the trial will reveal Becker to have been Buback's killer. The same applies to Wisniewski; forensic scientists have yet to find any evidence implicating him.
In all likelihood, there will be no relief for the haunted son, Michael Buback. And there will certainly be none for Verena Becker. Whether she spends the next few years in a cell or in Zehlendorf, she will face an oppressive silence which will grant her no peace.
JÜRGEN DAHLKAMP, CARSTEN HOLM, SVEN RÖBEL, MICHAEL SONTHEIMER, HOLGER STARK
- Part 1: Prosecutors Revisit Notorious 1977 Assassination
- Part 2: The Long Road into Darkness
- Part 3: Questions and Speculation
- Part 4: 'I Have No Real Feeling for Guilt'