Degowski will be set free in the coming months, a court spokesperson said on Tuesday. He will receive a new identity in order to aid his assimilation back into society.
Along with accomplice Hans-Jürgen Rösner, Degowski took dozens of hostages after a bank robbery went wrong in the city of Gladbeck, near the Dutch border in 1988.
The pair initially took two bank clerks captive before demanding more money and a getaway car. They then went on a three-day tour of western Germany, picking up Rösner’s girlfriend, Marion Löblich, and taking a whole bus full of people hostage.
All the while they were followed by a horde of journalists to whom they gladly gave interviews. In scarcely believable scenes, reporters also interviewed hostages while the duo pointed guns at their heads.
Along the way the criminals shot a 15-year-old Italian after police managed to capture Löblich.
After a detour into the Netherlands and a stop at Cologne Cathedral to do some sightseeing, the pair were stopped on the Autobahn south of the cathedral city by police. An 18-year-old hostage was killed in the resultant shoot-out.
The case has subsequently become infamous for the way in which journalists willingly aided the fugitives.
One journalist, who showed them the way out of Cologne, later admitted :”journalistically, we totally messed up.”
Rösner is still in jail in the city of Aachen.