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CRIME

Ex-RAF terrorist Klar granted parole

Christian Klar, a former leader of the Red Army Faction terrorist group who was convicted of multiple murders, will be released early next year after 26 years in prison, a Stuttgart state court has ruled.

Ex-RAF terrorist Klar granted parole
The scene of Buback's murder in 1977. Photo: DPA

Klar, 56, no longer poses a threat to society, the court ruled on Monday. He will likely be released on January 3. He currently serving multiple life sentences, but will have served the minimum 26 years as of January.

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 Siegfrieg 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 combatting “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, on Monday 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.

CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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