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Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

Red Army Faction leader 'is free'

Christian Klar. File picture from 1992
Klar was convicted of nine murders and 11 attempted murders

The former leader of the extreme left militant group the Red Army Faction has been released from jail in Germany, his lawyer says.

Christian Klar, aged 56, was sentenced to five life-terms, but has served the minimum required 26 years.

"Now he will determine for himself what he does and where he does it," his lawyer said.

The group, also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang, killed more than 30 people before breaking up 10 years ago.

Klar's lawyer, Heinz-Juergen Schneider, said he had been taken to an undisclosed location after being allowed to leave prison early on Friday.

A court in Stuttgart decided last month there were no grounds to keep him in custody.

"A major consideration was the question of whether it could be feared that Christian Klar would commit significant criminal acts again," but the judges decided there was no evidence he would, the court said in a statement.

Brutality

Klar was arrested in 1982 and later convicted of nine murders and 11 attempted murders.

It was the brutality of the Red Army Faction's crimes which shocked the public, the BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Berlin says.

Along with the principal targets of their terror - bankers, businessmen, judges and US servicemen - peripheral figures like bodyguards and drivers were also gunned down.

In one case, the head of a bank was assassinated at his home, after being presented with a bunch of flowers by the killers.

This year's film - The Baader Meinhof Complex - by Uli Edel, has been named as Germany's official entry for the 2009 foreign language film Oscar.

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