March 25, 2007 07:29pm
FORMER Red Army faction guerrilla Brigitte Mohnhaupt, once Germany's most dangerous woman, left jail today after 24 years in detention.
Mohnhaupt, who was convicted for her role in nine murders in the left wing group's campaign against the West German state in the 1970s, was released on parole from a prison in southern Germany early today, prison official Wolfgang Deuschl said.
Mohnhaupt, 57, was collected at the prison by friends, he said.
A German court last month granted her parole because she has served her minimum sentence and is no longer considered a threat.
But the families of the victims of the RAF, also known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang, have bitterly opposed the release, partly because she has never expressed remorse over the murders.
Mohnhaupt was part of the second generation of RAF leaders who took over after Ulrike Meinhof, Andreas Baader, Jan-Carl Raspe and Gudrun Ennslin were caught and committed suicide in jail.
The RAF's campaign reached a bloody crescendo in the so-called German Autumn in 1977 when they kidnapped and killed leading industrialist and former Nazi Hanns-Martin Schleyer and hijacked a Lufthansa passenger plane with the help of Palestinian militants.
Schleyer's widow was among those who opposed Mohnhaupt's release, saying she was "appalled'' at the move.
The RAF is believed to have killed 34 people. Its other victims include the head of Dresdner Bank, Juergen Ponto, who was shot dead on his doorstep.
The group also launched attacks against US military personnel stationed in Germany.
In 1981, Mohnhaupt helped to launch a rocket attack on an American general, Frederick Kroesen. He barely survived.
The former philosophy student was finally arrested at an RAF arms cache in a forest near Frankfurt in 1982.
Her release had initially been due on Tuesday.
Mohnhaupt has given no indication of what she wants to do outside prison.
A priest who has regularly visited her in prison in Bavaria in southern Germany over the past 15 years, said she was a "very nice'' person who would lead a peaceful life, like other former RAF activists who had completed their prison sentences.
"The RAF has renounced violence and Brigitte Mohnhaupt did so along with them,'' priest Siegfried Fleiner said.
The RAF disbanded in 1988. Some 20 former militants of the group have been freed after serving lengthy sentences.
Only three still remain behind bars, including Christian Klar who led the group along with Mohnhaupt.
Klar was last month refused prison day releases after calling for "the total defeat of the capitalists' aims'' in a speech read out on his behalf at a Marxist meeting in Berlin.