Last 'Red Army Faction' leader to be freed on parole


THE LAST ringleader of the Baader-Meinhof guerrilla gang is to be released on parole in January after 26 years behind bars.

Christian Klar was a member of the so-called "second generation" of the extreme left gang also known as the "Red Army Faction", and was involved in the killing of Dresdner Bank chairman Jürgen Ponto and state prosecutor Siegfried Buback.

He helped to organise the so-called "German Autumn" campaign of 1977 to pressurise the West German government to release from prison Red Army ringleaders Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ennslin.

The Red Army Faction emerged as a violent offshoot of the 1968 student movement, protesting against US actions in Vietnam and elsewhere and the perceived failure by the West German state to address its Nazi past adequately.

Klar was one of the few Red Army members not to go underground in East Germany after the ringleaders killed themselves in prison in 1977.

Although the Red Army continued officially for another 21 years, finally disbanding in 1998, its energy was spent. After organising some unsuccessful attacks on US and Nato targets, Klar was captured in 1982. He was sentenced to life imprisonment three years later on nine counts of murder and 11 counts of attempted murder.

He was last seen in public in a 2002 television interview, rejecting the idea of feeling guilt for his actions. "In the political sphere, against the background of our battle, that's no way to talk," he said. "I'll leave the feelings to the other side and respect their feelings but they're not my feelings."

That lack of remorse prompted German president Horst Köhler to reject his application for clemency last year.

A Stuttgart court yesterday noted that Klar's failure to show remorse remained "a heavy burden on the victims and their relatives". However it awarded the five-year parole, saying there were "no indications of the convict's continued danger".

Fellow gang member Brigitte Mohnhaupt, leader of the second generation, was released last year and is now believed to be working in a Bremen kindergarten.

The director of the Berliner Ensemble, Claus Peymann, has offered Klar an internship as stage assistant at the theatre founded by Bertolt Brecht in 1949.