Meinhof gang killer to be freed

Last Updated: Monday, 12 February 2007, 10:54 GMT

A former member of the Baader-Meinhof gang is to be freed on probation after serving 24 years for her involvement in kidnappings and murders in the 1970s.

A German court ruled that Brigitte Mohnhaupt, 57, qualifies for early release after serving a minimum proportion of her five life sentences.

The group, also known as the Red Army Faction, were behind kidnaps and killings in West Germany.

The prospect of Mohnhaupt's release has sparked a fierce debate in Germany.
Mohnhaupt was convicted of involvement in nine murders. Victims included a judge, a banker and the employers' federation president.

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg, in Berlin, says she was once described as the most evil and dangerous woman in West Germany.

Separately, another prominent Red Army prisoner, Christian Klar, is seeking early release.

He has applied to the German president for a pardon.

Our correspondent says the prospect of Mohnhaupt and Klar being freed has sparked controversy in Germany and revived memories of one of the bloodiest episodes in the country's post-war history.

'No remorse'

The RAF sought to combat what it saw as capitalist oppression of workers and US imperialism.

It was active from about 1970 - having grown out of student anti-Vietnam war protests - until 1992, when it abandoned violence. It formally disbanded in 1998.
One of the group's most prominent targets was the German industrialist Hans Martin Schleyer - who was kidnapped in September 1977 and shot six weeks later.

Speaking before the court ruling, Mr Schleyer's son Joerg said members of the group had expressed no remorse for the killing.

"I can't understand that we would take [let] them out because within the last 30 years there's nothing they said - 'OK we're sorry we murdered your father, sorry for that, we murdered policemen, sorry for that.' Absolutely no word."

The court in Stuttgart said Mohnhaupt would be released on five years probation on 27 March.

"This is not a pardon, rather a decision that is based on specific legal considerations," the court said in a statement, Reuters news agency reported.

"The decision for probation was reached based on the determination that no security risk exists."

Is the court right to release Brigitte Mohnhaupt on probation? Are some crimes too heinous to allow the possibility of release? Or should every criminal have the prospect of freedom at the end of his sentence if he is no longer a danger to society?

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A German court ruled that Brigitte Mohnhaupt, 57, qualifies for early release after serving a minimum proportion of her five life sentences.
Just as expected in western criminal justice systems women are often released after serving the minimum proportion of their sentences. Would this have happend if she was a man? Probably not.
Why is it bad to let many women get out of prison so early? Because it is a clear sign that women can (partly) get away with crimes or will be punished a lot less compared to men which increases the likelyhood that women will commit crimes. Also it's a MAJOR malfunction of the criminal justice systems when women are treated so softly, but men a lot harsher.