German President Pardons Former RAF Terrorist
From Deutsche Welle 03.12.2003
German President Johannes Rau has pardoned a former member of the notorious and now disbanded terrorist outfit RAF (Red Army Faction), his office confirmed on Wednesday. Rolf Clemens Wagner, who has spent the last 24 years in jail for being involved in the murder of German Employers' Association President Hanns Martin Schleyer among other crimes, is expected to walk free on December 10. 59-year-old Wagner was arrested in November 1979 in Zurich after a bank robbery after he shot dead a women and injured several others during his escape. Wagner was deported to Germany in 1982 after being sentenced to lifelong penal servitude in Switzerland and received a further life imprisonment sentence in Duesseldorf in 1987. The Red Army Faction, which had its roots in the radical leftist student movement of the late 1960s, carried out a campaign of killings, robberies and bomb attacks from 1971 to 1993 in Germany with the aim of destroying a society they condemned as imperialist and capitalist. The move starkly polarized West German society still struggling to reconcile its liberal democratic aspirations with its Nazi past.
For the record: Wagner was involved in and sentenced for the attempted bomb assault on then NATO commander-in-chief Alexander Haig as well.
One could argue that 24 years in prison are enough for any crime and that considerable doubts have arisen concerning the federal prosecutor's office's account, that Wagner killed Schleyer himself. As far as I know it's the latter that finally led to Wagner's release. Besides, Wagner has credibly renounced terrorism. But then he has shown criminal energy over a long time and even if he didn't kill anybody himself, he was without doubt an accomplice and as far as his renunciation is concerned... well saying sorry is not always enough.
But what is really worrying here is the fact that it will transport the message that terrorism is a venial sin, which is even less acceptable now as it was ever.