Knut Speaks RAF Terrorist Folkerts Denies Involvement in Buback Murder

Knut Folkerts, convicted in 1980 for his alleged involvement in the 1977 assassination of German federal prosecutor Siegfried Buback, says he was not part of the operation. It's just the latest indication that the German courts may have made a mistake in the high-profile case.


Knut Folkerts as he appeared in a police handout from 1974.
AP

Knut Folkerts as he appeared in a police handout from 1974.

The attack may have happened 30 years ago. But this spring, Germany is learning more and more details about the activities of the Red Army Faction group which terrorized Germany in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. It is also learning that at least one of the verdicts handed down in the aftermath of the murder of chief federal prosecutor Siegfried Buback on April 7, 1977 was very likely wrong.

Former RAF member Knut Folkerts, convicted in 1980 of being involved in the Buback assassination in Karlsruhe and sentenced to life in prison, has told DER SPIEGEL in an exclusive interview that he had nothing to do with the attack. He said that, although he knew about the planning, he couldn't have been involved because on the day of the assassination, he was far away in Cologne and then in Holland.

"My trial," the now 55-year-old says, "was a farce."

Folkert was convicted of being part of the three-man operation which saw two RAF members pull up next to Buback's car at a Karlsruhe intersection as he was on his way to work. In addition to Buback, the driver and a passenger were killed when the masked attacker on the back of the motorcycle opened fire. The two assassins managed to escape in a getaway car driven by a third RAF member.

At the 1980 trial, Folkerts was convicted of being involved in the attack along with Christian Klar, who drove the getaway car, and Günter Sonnenberg. Despite German authorities being unable to determine who fired the deadly shots, all three were convicted in the crime. Only recently, however, have former RAF members begun revising the official version of events -- with many saying that rather than Folkerts, it was RAF member Stefan Wisniewski who was sitting on the back of the motorcycle that day.

The anatomy of an assassination: The murder of Siegfried Buback in April, 1977.
DER SPIEGEL

The anatomy of an assassination: The murder of Siegfried Buback in April, 1977.

"When I read that the presumption of innocence is 'one of the foundations of a constitutional state,' I can only say that the Stammheimer justice" -- many of the RAF trials took place in the Stammheim-Stuttgart prison -- "was successful in destroying this foundation," Folkerts said in the SPIEGEL interview, published on Sunday.

In another recent SPIEGEL interview, Peter-Jürgen Boock, also a former RAF member, likewise indicated that Folkerts had little to do with the Buback murder and that, as far as he knew, it was Wisniewski who fired the deadly shots. German officials have begun taking a new look at the case to determine whether Wisniewski should stand trial.

Folkerts does not dispute his intimate involvement in a number of other RAF operations, and he shot and killed a Dutch policeman during his arrest in September 1977. He was convicted by a Dutch court in the murder but was then extradited to Germany for the Buback trial.

Germany's history of leftist, RAF terrorism has been revisited recently with the release in late March of Brigitte Mohnhaupt and the debate over whether to grant Christian Klar amnesty. German President Horst Köhler chose to decline Klar's request for clemency earlier this month.

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