Terrorist's Clemency Plea Turned Down German President Horst Köhler Rejects Early Release for Christian Klar

Germany's President Horst Köhler has refused clemency to the convicted RAF terrorist Christian Klar.

German President Horst Köhler has refused to grant early release to convicted Red Army Faction terrorist Christian Klar.

Köhler's office announced Monday that the president had turned down Klar's plea for clemency, as well as a similar plea from fellow RAF member Birgit Hogefeld. Both Klar and Hogefeld are serving life sentences for murder.

The 54-year-old Klar has been in prison for 24 years and is two years away from being eligible for parole. He is serving a life sentence for his role in the murder of German federal prosecutor Siegfried Buback and other RAF killings. Klar, who had already had one clemency plea turned down by Köhler's predecessor Johannes Rau, was criticized in February when he sent a provocative anti-capitalist statement to a conference of far-left groups . Critics claimed the statement showed Klar had not changed his radical views.

Hogefeld received a life sentence in 1996 for the murder of an American soldier and a bomb attack on a United States airbase in 1985. She will not be eligible for parole until 2011 at the earliest.

Earlier, conservative politicians had reacted with fury to the news that Köhler had met with Klar as he considered granting him clemency. On Saturday, DER SPIEGEL reported on the meeting between Köhl and Klar.

Politicians from the Christian Social Union, the conservative Bavarian sister party to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, attacked Köhler over the weekend, saying they would not support him if he were to stand again for president in 2009, should he grant Klar clemency.

Merkel came to Köhler's defense Sunday. In a statement released Sunday, the chancellor demanded "that we all respect Horst Köhler's decision, no matter how the president decides in the end."

There has been heated controversy in Germany recently about the release of convicted terrorists from prison -- including Klar's fellow RAF member Brigitte Mohnhaupt , who was freed in March -- with families of the victims and conservative politicians protesting the decisions.