One of the last members of the former Baader-Meinhof gang still in prison is to be freed, a court ruled today in a case that has divided Germany.
Brigitte Mohnhaupt, who has served 24 years of a life sentence for her involvement in nine murders, including those of a banker, a prosecutor and the president of the employers’ federation, was granted parole by the Stuttgart state court.
“This is not a pardon, rather a decision that is based on specific legal considerations,” the court said in a statement. “The decision for probation was reached based on the determination that no security risk exists.”
The 57-year-old, a prominent “second generation” member of the terrorist group, which was named after its founders Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof but later known as the Red Army Faction (RAF), will be released on five years’ probation on March 27.
The court’s deliberations have sparked fierce debate within Germany, as well as a re-examination of the terror caused in the 1970s and 80s by the ultra-left group.
Proponents of parole for Mohnhaupt argue that she has already spent more time behind bars than most Nazi war criminals – Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect, was released after 20 years – and that the country has moved on considerably since then, notably through reunification.
However, some relatives of victims have opposed the release, saying Mohnhaupt, who was arrested in November 1982, has never expressed any remorse for her crimes.