Former Baader-Meinhof gang member jailed over 70s murder

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 06, 2012 10:22 AM
Former Baader-Meinhof gang member jailed over 70s murder

By Hendrik Sackmann

STUTTGART (Reuters) - A former member of Germany's far-left Red Army Faction was convicted on Friday of complicity in the murder of Germany's top attorney 35 years ago in what is likely to be the last court case investigating members of the Baader-Meinhof gang.

Verena Becker was sentenced to four years' imprisonment for her involvement in the murder of German State Prosecutor Siegfried Buback in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe in 1977. Stuttgart's higher regional court found her guilty on three counts because two people accompanying Buback were also killed.

Hermann Wieland, the judge presiding over the case, said Becker, sporting her trademark small black sunglasses, had "decisively collaborated" in making the decision at a Red Army Faction (RAF) meeting in the Netherlands to murder Buback.

Buback was travelling from his home to the federal high court in Karlsruhe when a passenger on a motorbike fired an automatic weapon at the Mercedes he was in, killing him and two other people in the car.

Three members of the RAF were convicted of killing Buback, but their vow of silence meant the person riding the motorcycle has never been identified.

The federal high court found the weapon in Becker's possession in 1977 and later found traces of her saliva on a letter in which the RAF claimed responsibility for the assassination.

The RAF, co-founded by Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, emerged from the student protest and anti-Vietnam war movements in West Germany in the 1960s.

They tapped into a vein of resentment at the failures of a cumbersome de-Nazification process and anger at a generation who had lived through the Nazi era and gone on to live comfortable, capitalist middle-class lives.

Becker, 59, went on trial in September 2010 for complicity in the murder and pleaded not guilty.

She kept her silence until the 89th day in court, when she spoke to deny her involvement in the assassination, saying she had been in Yemen at the time of the killing and telling Buback's son she could not say who had murdered his father.

Michael Buback, Buback's son, joined the case as a civil plaintiff in the hope of achieving some closure.

"To us this trial was very useful and supplied a lot of information and those who were here regularly would have noticed that, I think," he said after the verdict.

"We are searching for the truth, how it happened and who did it. And we hope that the court would have an answer ready. That's the court's job," he said.

But the judge criticized his civil action, which helped to bring about the trial. "It's easy to quickly formulate accusations from a desk," he said.

Becker was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1977 for armed robbery and attempted murder. She served 12 years in jail before being pardoned in 1989 and began a new life under an assumed identity.

(Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Janet Lawrence)