Red Army Faction leader's release shows terrorists should be treated as simple criminals

Richard Huffman [creator of Baader-Meinhoff.com and author of The Gun Speaks]: "Christian Klar, leader of the notorious Red Army Faction, the leftist terrorist group that waged war on Germany from 1970 through the early 1990s, was released from prison. Klar had been serving time for, among other things, the murder of Germany's top federal prosecutor, Siegfried Buback, who occupied a position roughly equivalent to the United State Attorney General.

Klar's release highlights the difference between the German and American penal systems. In Germany there is essentially no life sentence. Few people die in German prisons of old age. Klar had been given a "life sentence" for participating in nine different murders and eleven attempted murders, yet he was released after twenty-six years in prison in part because he was no longer considered dangerous.

Klar's release effectively ends the long, challenging relationship this terror group had with the German court system. Though it was certainly not their intention in the beginning, the Red Army Faction managed to inspire a reaction in the German legal system that offered clear parallels to the United States in recent years during our own war on terror.

Much like our efforts at Guantanamo Bay, the German state decided to treat it's Red Army Faction prisoners as fundamentally different than other prisoners. They experimented on their prisoners with conditions that could be described as torture. They kept many of their prisoners in entirely white cells, with a light on twenty-four hours a day, with no other prisoners in their wing, no sounds in their cells, and no human contact for months on end.

They secretly and illegally recorded many of the conversations of the imprisoned terrorists with their lawyers for months on end, jeopardizing their prosecution. They built a maximum security wing on top of their maximum security prison in Stuttgart to house their prisoners, and housed both men and women together in the same group of cells. They built a massive courthouse right in the prison and held the largest and most complicated trial in German history to convict the "First Generation of the Red Army Faction."

And in the end, the German state's efforts only served to elevate the terrorists in the public mind, with many buying into the notion that they were political prisoners and not simple criminals."

 

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