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CRIME

Far-left terrorists’ last-gasp spree ‘to fund their retirement’

Police have confirmed that DNA from three far-left terrorists who have been on the run for decades was found at the site of two robberies in 2015.

Far-left terrorists' last-gasp spree 'to fund their retirement'
(L-r): ex-RAF members Volker Staub, Daniela Klette, and Burkhard Garweg. Photo: BKA

In both robberies, the most recent of which happened at the end of December, Daniela Klette (57), Volker Staub (58) and Burkhard Garweg are alleged to have held up security vans, but failed to make away with any cash.

The three were some of the last members of the notorious Red Army Faction, a terrorist cell founded in 1970, which was blamed for over thirty murders, numerous bombings and part-responsibility for the hijacking of a plane in its almost three decade existence.

The group announced its dissolution in 1998, but two years later state prosecutors announced they were investigating Klette and Staub on suspicion of founding a new terror cell.

Their DNA was found at the scene of a robbery in Duisburg in 1999, as well as on a money transporter that was successfully robbed, with the thieves making off with over a million Deutsche marks. Prosecutors believed at the time that the money was being used to train new recruits.

But the trio went silent until last year.

The first robbery took place on June 6th 2015 in a supermarket parking place on the outskirts of Bremen, public broadcaster ARD reports.

After blocking the path of a security van with the first car, two camouflaged and masked people got out of the vehicle carrying Kalashnikov rifles and proceeded to threaten the personnel in the car.

A third assailant then also appeared on the scene carrying a rocket launcher.

At least three shots were fired, which hit the money transporter’s wheels and metal work. 

But as they still couldn’t open the doors of the vehicle and access the valuables inside, the trio fled in a car which the third one had arrived in.

Details of the second attempted robbery are still to be released, but it was also on a security van, this time in Wolfsburg.

Police and RAF experts alike do not believe that the latest robberies were aimed at financing terrorist operations.

“I don't think a fourth generation is about to come along,” terror expert Butz Peters told ARD, explaining it was more likely they were trying to secure money to live out their twilight years.
 
“People who have lived in the underground for years haven't had the chance to pay into a pension fund or to build something similar up,” he said.

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CRIME

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

A 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard on Monday once again denied being complicit in war crimes during the Holocaust as his trial drew to a close in Germany.

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

Josef Schütz, the oldest person so far to face trial over Nazi crimes during World War II, is accused of involvement in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, has pleaded innocent throughout the trial, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said again at the close of the proceedings, his voice wavering.

Dressed in a grey shirt and pyjama bottoms and sitting in a wheelchair, Schütz insisted he had had nothing to do with the atrocities and was “telling the truth”.

READ ALSO: Ex-Nazi death camp secretary who fled trial to face court in Germany

Prosecutors say he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the crimes as a guard at the camp and are seeking to punish him with five years behind bars.

But Schütz’s lawyer, Stefan Waterkamp, said that since there were no photographs of him wearing an SS uniform, the case was based on “hints” of his possible involvement.

“As early as 1973, investigators had information about him but did not pursue him. At the time, witnesses could have been heard but now they are all dead or no longer able to speak,” Waterkamp said.

Former Nazi guard

The 101-year-old former Nazi guard covers his face at the Neuruppin courthouse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

It would be a mistake for the court to try to “make up for the mistakes of a previous generation of judges”, the lawyer said.

Antoine Grumbach, 80, whose father died in Sachsenhausen, told AFP Schuetz “does not want to remember”, calling it “a form of defence”.

The trial was not just about “putting a centenarian in prison”, he said. It had also produced evidence that Sachsenhausen was an “experimental extermination camp”.

“All the cruellest methods were invented there and then exported,” Grumbach said.

READ ALSO: Trials of aging Nazis a ‘reminder for the present’, says German prosecutor

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