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Last Updated: Monday, 7 May 2007, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
No pardon for Meinhof gang leader
Christian Klar and Brigitte Mohnhaupt
Klar (l) stays in jail but Brigitte Mohnhaupt has been freed
A former leader of the Baader-Meinhhof gang has had his plea for clemency turned down by Germany's president.

Christian Klar, one of the leaders of the militant anti-capitalist group, also known as the Red Army Faction, was jailed in 1983 for multiple murders.

Klar, who is eligible for parole in 2009, is one of only three gang members who remain in prison.

The question of his release has sparked heated debate in Germany as to whether the country should forgive and forget.

But in a statement from his office on Monday, President Horst Koehler said he had decided against granting clemency.

Mr Koehler was said to have based his decision on the opinions of legal experts, prison authorities and a criminal assessment of Klar, who is now 54.

The president also met Klar personally and held talks with relatives of the RAF's victims, the Reuters news agency reported.

Mr Klar's hopes were raised after fellow member, Brigitte Mohnhaupt, was released in March after serving 24 years in jail for nine murders.

Extremists

Between 1977 and 1982 the Red Army Faction sought to combat what it saw as capitalist oppression of workers and US imperialism.

Members were suspected of killing 34 people.

It was active from about 1970 - having grown out of student anti-Vietnam war protests - until 1992, when it abandoned violence.

It formally disbanded in 1998.

One of the group's most prominent targets was the German industrialist Hans Martin Schleyer - who was kidnapped in September 1977 and shot six weeks later.




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