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Ex-RAF terrorist Klar released from prison

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Ex-RAF terrorist Klar released from prison
File photo of the Buback murder scene in 1977. Photo: DPA
12:04 CET+01:00
Christian Klar, a former leader of the Red Army Faction terrorist group who was convicted of multiple murders, has been released after 26 years in prison, his lawyer said on Friday.

“Only he will be able to decide what he wants to do and where he will do it,” the Hamburg lawyer told daily Der Tagesspiegel.

A Stuttgart court decided in late November that 56-year-old Klar no longer poses a threat to society. He was serving multiple life sentences on nine counts of murder, but would have served the minimum sentence of 26 years as of January. Klar was apparently allowed out a few weeks early because he saved up vacation time while working in prison. German law allows prisoners a certain number of “vacation days” for family visits.

Klar was convicted in 1985 of involvement in the murders of nine people and the attempted murder of 11 for the leftist terrorist group, including the murders of West Germany's top prosecutor Siegfried Buback and Hanns-Martin Schleyer, president of the country's employers' association.

Buback, a strong opponent of the leftist terrorist group during his term, was killed along with his driver Wolfgang Göbel, and a judicial officer, Georg Wurster, on the way to the courthouse in Karlsruhe in 1977. A motorcycle pulled up to Buback's Mercedes at a stoplight, and a passenger on the back opened fire with an automatic weapon.

Buback's murder was the first crime in a series of terrorist acts by the militant communist RAF group in their radical opposition to the West German government that came to be known as "German Autumn" in 1977.

Schleyer was kidnapped in September by the RAF and killed by his captors one-and-a-half months later after the government did not give in to their demands.

Another RAF leader, Brigitte Mohnhaupt, was released last year after the Stuttgart court determined that she no longer posed a threat to society.

The RAF, also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang after two of its leading members, emerged from the 1968 student protest movement and was committed to combating "capitalist imperialism" in what it called a corrupt West German society. The group is thought responsible for the deaths of 34 people.

Christian Klar has shown little public remorse for his crime and caused headlines last year when he wrote in a Marxist newspaper that Europe was ruled by an "imperial pact" and that society must continue to work for the "final defeat of capital."

He asked to be paroled in 2007 but his application was turned down by German President Horst Köhler, who did not give a reason.

However, in November the Stuttgart court said Klar had "completely changed."

A film dramatizing the group's activities is now playing in cinemas in Germany and abroad. "The Baader-Meinhof Complex" has been named as Germany's official entry for the 2009 foreign language film Oscar. Klar is played by actor Daniel Lommatzsch in the film.

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