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Ex-member of Germany Red Army Faction arrested after decades of hiding


1988 portrait of RAF (Red Army Faction) member Daniela Klette, handed out by German police in 1993. A former member of the disbanded left-wing militant Red Army Faction group has been arrested after more than 30 years on the run, German authorities said. File
| Photo Credit: AP

A former member of the disbanded left-wing militant Red Army Faction group who is accused of participating in a string of robberies has been arrested after more than 30 years on the run, German authorities said on February 27.

Daniela Klette, 65, was arrested at an apartment in Berlin on Monday afternoon. Investigators said they were led to her by a tip they received in November from the public, but wouldn’t give details.

Klette, who had a foreign passport under a different name, put up no resistance, the head of Lower Saxony state’s criminal police office, Friedo de Vries, told reporters. She was identified with the help of fingerprints. A search of the apartment later turned up two magazines and ammunition that would fit a handgun but no weapon, Mr. de Vries said.

Klette is one of three former Red Army Faction members whom police have been seeking for years. She, Ernst-Volker Staub and Burkhard Garweg have been linked to 12 robberies in northern Germany between 1999 and 2016, as well as attempted murder.

Authorities suspect the motive for the robberies was to finance their lives underground rather than anything political.

Mr. De Vries said there was a second arrest on Tuesday, but the man’s identity remains unclear.

Police officers stand at the entrance of the district court, in Verden, Germany.

Police officers stand at the entrance of the district court, in Verden, Germany.
| Photo Credit:
AP

Klette was taken to the northern town of Verden, where a judge ordered her kept in custody pending a possible indictment over six robberies between 1999 and 2016 — most of them at the end of that period.

Klette hasn’t yet responded to the case against her, but didn’t dispute her identity, prosecutor Clemens Eimterbäumer said at a news conference in Hannover. His office’s investigation doesn’t cover any alleged terror offenses related to her membership of the Red Army Faction.

The Red Army Faction emerged from German student protests against the Vietnam War. The group launched a violent campaign against what members considered U.S. imperialism and capitalist oppression of workers.

The organisation killed 34 people and injured hundreds. It declared itself disbanded in 1998.

Investigators said they don’t yet know where Klette has been in recent years, whether she was even in Germany or how long she had been at the apartment in Berlin.

“We have been asking ourselves for many, many years how one succeeds in living underground for 30 years,” Mr. de Vries said. “Of course we are hoping for answers when we can get talking to Ms. Klette, which naturally we hope.”

The trio of former Red Army Faction members were put on Europol’s “Europe’s Most Wanted” list in 2020. In mid-February, investigators made a new appeal for information on a popular television crime program.

“This success shows very clearly that no matter how far in the past their actions are, the perpetrators can never feel secure,” said Lower Saxony’s justice minister, Kathrin Wahlmann.



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