Ex-RAF member denies role in 1977 killing

AP News
Posted: May 14, 2012 10:40 AM
Ex-RAF member denies role in 1977 killing

A former member of the Red Army Faction on Monday denied involvement in the 1977 murder of West Germany's chief federal prosecutor, one of the leftist group's most notorious killings.

Verena Becker, 59, has been on trial since September 2010, accused of playing a leading role in the fatal ambush of prosecutor Siegfried Buback, his driver and a bodyguard. She is charged with three counts of murder and could face life in prison if convicted.

Becker, who hadn't previously testified, told the Stuttgart state court on Monday that she was "never involved in concrete preparation" for the attack, news agency dapd reported.

Michael Buback, the slain prosecutor's son, has participated in the trial as a co-plaintiff as is allowed under German law, in the hope of finding out who the killer was _ something that has never been established.

But Becker said in court: "I can't answer for you this question of who killed your father, because I wasn't there."

Becker said she was in the Middle East on the day of the attack, and only learned of it later from media reports.

An original investigation into Becker's role in the April 7, 1977 slaying, which took place during an especially bloody period of leftist violence _ known as the "German Autumn" _ in the then-West Germany was closed in 1980 because of a lack of evidence.

Becker had been arrested in May 1977 and convicted of armed robbery and attempted murder stemming from a shootout with police that preceded her arrest. She was sentenced to life in prison, but pardoned in 1989 by West Germany's president.

Three other Red Army Faction terrorists were convicted of involvement in the Buback shooting in Karlsruhe in southwestern Germany, in which driver Wolfgang Goebel and bodyguard Georg Wurster also were killed.

Becker was arrested in August 2009 after a new investigation was opened, but set free a few months later by a federal court that ruled she didn't pose a flight risk.

The new investigation was based in part on new evidence generated using DNA samples, including one linking Becker to a letter from the RAF sent on the day of the attack.

The Red Army Faction emerged from German student protests against the Vietnam War, and launched a violent campaign against what members considered U.S. imperialism and capitalist oppression of workers.

The organization killed 34 people and injured hundreds. It declared itself disbanded in 1998.