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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 23:30 GMT
Meinhof brain study yields clues
Red Army Factions members Baader, Ensslin and Raspe, who all committed suicide in prison
Several Baader Meinhof members committed suicide
German left-wing extremist Ulrike Meinhof had a brain operation in the 1960s that may have contributed to her becoming one of Europe's most feared urban guerrillas, according to a specialist.

The slide into terror can be explained by the brain illness.

Bernhard Bogerts

Bernhard Bogerts, a psychiatrist from the University of Magdeburg, has studied her brain and said it showed "pathological modifications" which may have lessened her culpability at her trial.

Meinhof, who committed suicide in 1976, had been sentenced in 1974 to eight years in prison after a ruling that she was fully mentally competent.

Mr Bogerts confirmed that he carried out the research on her brain over the last five years.

His involvement only came to light last week, when one of Meinhof's daughters said that her mother's brain was removed without the family's permission.

Career change

Mr Bogerts told a news conference on Tuesday that he had had the brain since 1997 after applying for permission to examine it.

Previously it had been held by a neurologist who conducted the autopsy after her suicide.

Ulrike Meinhof
Meinhof's daughter claims her mother may have had mental abnormalities

The neurologist noticed changes to Meinhof's brain caused by an operation for a tumour in 1962.

Mr Bogerts said that although there were other factors involved, the operation could have led to behavioural changes that turned her from an aspiring journalist to co-founder of the far-left Red Army Faction.

"The slide into terror can be explained by the brain illness," he said.

The Red Army Faction, also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang, carried out a campaign of killings and bombings against leading industrial figures beginning in the 1970s.

One of Meinhof's two daughters, Bettina Roehl, has filed a lawsuit on charges of disturbing the peace of the dead for secretly removing Meinhof's brain after her death.

She is seeking to have the brain buried with their mother's remains in Berlin.

Prosecutors are now examining documents from the time of Meinhof's death to establish how the brain came to be preserved for 26 years and whether any offence was committed.

See also:

20 Apr 98 | Europe
01 Oct 02 | Europe
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