German court to free woman that killed US soldier

AP News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2011 2:30 PM
German court to free woman that killed US soldier

A German court decided Friday to release a former Red Army Faction terrorist that was involved in a murder of a U.S. soldier in 1985 and a deadly bombing at a U.S. military base.

Birgit Hogefeld's parole request was granted after serving 18 years in prison because of her "positive development," Frankfurt state court said, noting she finished a college degree through distance learning and started to work on a Ph.D.

She was serving a life sentence for her role in the attacks. A 2008 court ruling had found that Hogefeld could only be considered for parole upon completing 18 years of her life sentence in prison given the "severity of the crimes" she committed.

Hogefeld was a member of the leftist Red Army Faction terrorist group, which emerged from German student protests against the Vietnam War.

The terror group waged a violent, 22-year campaign against what members considered U.S. imperialism and capitalist oppression of workers. It killed 34 people and wounded hundreds of others before declaring itself disbanded in 1998.

In 2007 and 2010, then President Horst Koehler rejected requests for clemency from Hogefeld.

At her 1996 trial, the court found Hogefeld guilty of luring U.S. Army Spc. Edward Pimental of New York City out of a disco near Mainz in 1985 to obtain his military ID. He was later found shot in the head in nearby woods.

The ID card was then used to get a Volkswagen sedan packed with about 530 pounds (240 kilograms) of explosives onto the U.S. Air Force Rhine-Main Air Base as people were arriving for work the next morning.

Airman 1st Class Frank H. Scarton, 19, of Woodhaven, Michigan, and Becky Joe Bristol, a civilian Air Force employee from San Antonio, were killed by the blast and more than 20 others were wounded.

Hogefeld was arrested in 1993 and was later convicted of murder in the deaths of Pimental, Scarton and Bristol.

It wasn't immediately clear when she would be released.