Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Baader Meinhof Gang

**Update: Baader-Meinhof Gang Member Freed

By Rachael Bell

In February 2007, a German court approved the parole of former Red Army Faction leader Brigitte Mohnhaupt, 57, dubbed one of Germany's most evil women and one of the last few remaining members of the Baader-Meinhof gang, the nucleus of the RAF, Michael Norris reported for NPR. Mohnhaupt had been sentenced in 1985 to 24 years to life for the murder of nine people. At the time of her release, she had served the minimum 24-year term of her sentence. Her release tore open old wounds and "painful memories of the bloody campaign waged by the left-wing terrorist group," The Associated Press reported.

Brigitte Mohnhaupt
Brigitte Mohnhaupt

One victim's widow, Waltrude Schleyer, 90, spoke out when Mohnhaupt was released from prison. Schleyer, the widow of German industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer, murdered in 1977 by the Baader-Meinhof gang, told reporters "these people don't deserve mercy," it was reported in The New American. Tempers flared even higher amongst family members of Baader-Meinhof victims when they learned that Mohnhaupt would receive an apartment and state benefits upon her release. Schleyer said she was "disgusted and appalled that Germany should mollycoddle a murderer," The Daily Mail quoted her as saying.

Christian Klar
Christian Klar

Mohnhaupt's release came around the same time another RAF leader, Christian Klar, filed an appeal for clemency with the office of the President of Germany, Horst Köhler. Klar requested to be freed from prison two years early. Norris reported for NPR that Klar had given a television interview six years earlier stating that he "respects the grief of people who lost loved ones but for him a lot of things in the world still need to be changed." Family members of those who died at the hands of the RAF fear that if he is released he may attempt to change things using terrorist tactics, as before.

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