• Germany's news in English

RAF's Becker silent as murder trial opens

The Local · 30 Sep 2010, 15:42

Published: 30 Sep 2010 15:42 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Becker, wearing large, black sunglasses, offered just a handful of words about her personal particulars to lead judge Hermann Wieland: that she was born in Berlin on July 31, 1952 and – after prompting – that she was single. She declined to give her current address.

“Ms Becker would like at this time to provide neither personal details nor details about the issue,” her lawyer Walter Venedey said.

Becker, 58, looked calm as she appeared in court near Stuttgart in a cream jacket and with her black hair cut short.

Prosecutor Siegfried Buback was killed along with two others when a motorcycle pillion-rider sprayed his chauffeur-driven limousine with bullets on April 7, 1977, in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe.

Other members of the murderous "anti-imperialist" outfit - also known as the Red Army Faction - have been convicted for the killing, but the person with the gun has never been identified.

Buback's son is "99 percent" sure that Becker killed his father, but she is accused only of helping in the planning, not pulling the trigger.

"We just want to know who is guilty. We just want the truth," Michael Buback, a co-plaintiff in the trial, told reporters.

Becker's involvement was never proved and the case was closed in 1980. According to press reports, she has denied involvement and even told investigators another militant, Stefan Wisniewski, fired the shots.

The case was reopened in 2008 when her DNA was found on a letter from the gang claiming responsibility for Buback's death.

The unmarried, childless Becker was charged in April with conspiracy to murder, but has continued to live freely in Berlin with her sister.

The killing was one of several operations carried out by the gang, better known to Germans as the Red Army Faction (RAF), during the peak of its armed campaign against West Germany in the 1970s known as the "German Autumn."

"The assassination of Siegfried Buback marked the start of the '77 offensive," prosecutor Walter Hemberger told the court as he read the charges on Thursday.

The urban guerrillas took up arms against what they considered an oppressive capitalist state still riddled with former Nazis, killing 34 people in attacks on West Germany's elite and US military bases before disbanding in 1998.

Also in 1977 they shot dead a German bank chief and kidnapped and killed industrialist Hanns Martin Schleyer – a former SS officer.

Soon afterwards German commandos stormed a Lufthansa jet on the tarmac at Mogadishu airport that had been hijacked by Palestinians who were allied to the gang. The same day, the gang's jailed "first generation" of leaders, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe, were found dead in their cells.

The official story is that they committed suicide but conspiracy theorists maintain they were murdered.

"In November 1977 I didn't have much trust in the stability of the nation," West Germany's chancellor at the time, Helmut Schmidt, admitted in a 2008 newspaper interview.

Story continues below…

Germany is now a peaceful country, marking this weekend 20 years since the reunification of West and East Germany. But Verena Becker represents a loose end from that traumatic era. She was sentenced to life in 1977 for other Baader-Meinhof activities, but freed in 1989. She trained as a physiotherapist but took early retirement after becoming ill.

Becker is being tried in the same place that she was convicted in 1977, not far from the prison where her former comrades-in-arms died.

If convicted, Becker in theory faces a life sentence, but in view of the time already served behind bars she would likely receive substantially less. A verdict is not expected before late December.

DAPD/AFP/The Locoal/dw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

18:18 September 30, 2010 by raandy
Thats the face of determination.
18:37 September 30, 2010 by William Thirteen
Becker is not the only RAF member that has fingered Wisniewski - so exactly where is he these days?
02:21 October 1, 2010 by JohnPaul44
She may have remained silent, but she apparently gave a fashion statement to The Local:

"Becker, 58, ...appeared...in a cream jacket with her black hair cut short."

Why were we given no such details about the prosecutor or other members of the court?
13:38 October 1, 2010 by domiDDD
Germany is now a peaceful country, marking this weekend 20 years since the reunification of West and East Germany.

OK.if you say so. but the article,LEFT Wing Violence feared for unity day says different.
20:08 October 1, 2010 by michael4096
she can't be a terrorist - doesn't even wear a headscarf
Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd