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1977: Kidnapped German found dead
The body of kidnapped businessman Hanns-Martin Schleyer has been found in the boot of a car in the French town of Mulhouse.

It is reported the 62-year-old German had been shot by his kidnappers, the Red Army Faction.

In a letter sent to French and German newspapers the kidnappers revealed their reasons for murdering Mr Schleyer.

These were Monday's Commando attack, which released the hostages of a hijacked Lufthansa plane in Mogadishu, and a failure to release jailed terrorists.

"His death is without any comparison with our sorrow and our anger after the massacre of Mogadishu" said the note signed by Red Army Faction leader Siegfried Haunser.

A spokesman for Chancellor Helmut Schmidt said: "We know the identities of the members of the Red Army Faction who were involved in the kidnap and murder of Herr Schleyer. The hour of the big search has begun. We know who they are and that they number 16."

Mr Schleyer was kidnapped 45 days ago when his car and a police escort were ambushed. Three policemen and Mr Schleyer's driver were killed but he survived and was held while the kidnappers demanded the release of jailed terrorists.

The hour of the big search has begun
Spokesman for Chancellor Helmut Schmidt

The car, which had been in the town on the German border for 36 hours, was first checked for booby traps before police moved in and confirmed the body was there.

The family, who at first did not believe the messages sent to the newspapers, were informed of the murder by a government representative.

An attempt by Mr Schleyer's family to pay his kidnappers 5 million was intercepted by German security men who stopped one of Mr Schleyer's sons on his way to hand over the money.

The German Government continually refused to meet any of the kidnappers' demands and said there would never be any guarantee of Mr Schleyer being freed.

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Half-open garage door with part of car visible
Police are examining the car in which Mr Schleyer's body was found

In Context
Mr Schleyer had recently become president of the employers and industry associations. This, accompanied by his job as an executive of Daimler-Benz motors made him the symbol of big business and is considered to be the reason he was kidnapped.

"The fat magnate of the cream of the national economy" is how his kidnappers described him.

The Red Army Faction emerged from the urban guerrilla group founded by Ulrike Meinhof and Andreas Baader in the 1960s.

The group was blamed for 30 murders - its last victim was the head of the Treuhand agency responsible for privatising Eastern German assets in 1991.

The Red Army Faction disbanded in 1991 saying "We are stuck in a dead end."

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