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Cablegate: Authorities Pressure Former Raf Members to Talk

VZCZCXRO1497
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHLZ
DE RUEHFT #0359 0380843
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 070843Z FEB 08
FM AMCONSUL FRANKFURT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4558
INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS FRANKFURT 000359

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/AGS, EUR/PGI, S/CT

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER KCRM ASEC GM
SUBJECT: Authorities Pressure Former RAF Members to Talk

REF: 07 Frankfurt 594

Sensitive but unclassified; not for internet distribution.

1. SUMMARY: The future of former RAF terrorist Christian Klar, who
was scheduled to be freed from prison in 2009, hangs in the balance
following the Baden-Wuerttemberg Justice Ministry's decision to
rescind his privileges and postpone his release on the grounds that
he poses a risk of escaping. The action follows a federal court
decision to extend his detention and re-imprison two
already-released former RAF members in an attempt to obtain
testimony in an ongoing investigation. The fate of Klar and his
former associates remains a hot-button issue in Germany, testing
public attitudes on the role of the judicial system in fighting
terrorism. END SUMMARY.

2. Baden-Wuerttemberg (B-W) Minister of Justice Ulrich Goll (Free
Democratic Party - FDP) decided February 1 to rescind limited
privileges enjoyed by Christian Klar and postpone his release to an
"unspecified point in time." In spring 2007, state judicial
authorities had granted him several privileges to ease his
reintegration into society in order to prepare him for release,
which was originally planned for early 2009. Since that time, Klar
had been allowed to leave the prison three times without ankle
bracelets in the company of prison guards. The B-W Justice Ministry
explained its decision by saying that, because Klar is under
pressure to testify in an ongoing investigation, there is a renewed
danger of his escaping. Klar's attorney, Hans-Juergen Schneider,
has already appealed the decision to the Federal Criminal Court
(Bundesgerichtshof - BGH) in Karlsruhe.

3. BACKGROUND: Klar is one of the former leaders of the second
generation of the extreme left terrorist group Red Army Faction
(RAF) that terrorized Germany in the 1970s and 1980s. He was
imprisoned in 1982 after being found guilty of nine counts of
murder. While it is considered unlikely that Klar, who is
fifty-five, would try to escape, the decision may be a further
attempt to make him give information on the 1977 RAF murder of
Federal Prosecutor Siegfried Buback.

4. The move follows the BGH decision in late December 2007 to
extend Klar's imprisonment by six months and detain for six months
former RAF members Brigitte Mohnhaupt and Knut Folkerts in order to
coerce them into giving information on the Buback murder. Mohnhaupt
and Folkerts, who were released from prison in March 2007 and
October 1995 respectively, have announced they will appeal the
decision. Mohnhaupt is currently on probation.

5. The Office of the Federal Prosecutor decided in April 2007 to
resume investigations of the Buback murder. In the spring of 2007,
former RAF terrorist Peter-Juergen Boock told Michael Buback,
Siegfried Buback's son, that another RAF member, Stefan Wisniewski,
had shot his father. The original investigation had found Klar,
Mohnhaupt and Folkerts guilty of murdering Buback, but all three
refused to testify on the crime. The continuing refusal of former
RAF members to give information or express remorse has frustrated
investigators and turned public sentiment against their early
release.

6. COMMENT: More than thirty years after the RAF assassinations of
several high-ranking German officials, German public opinion
continues to be divided between those who advocate tough punishments
for terrorists and those who argue that the RAF members are no
longer a threat to society. The release of Mohnhaupt in 2007 and
the awarding of privileges to Klar exposed deep divisions in German
society on the role of punishment in the judicial system. The new
rulings against Klar will once again bring attention to this
unresolved debate. END COMMENT.

7. This cable was coordinated with Embassy Berlin.
POWELL

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