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Ex-RAF terror group woman jailed

A former member of the Red Army Faction has been convicted as an accessory to the 1977 murder of West Germany's chief federal prosecutor, one of the leftist terror group's most notorious killings, and sentenced to four years in prison.

The Stuttgart state court ruled that, due to a previous conviction, two and a half years of Verena Becker's sentence counts as already served.

Becker went on trial in September 2010, accused of playing a leading role in the fatal ambush of prosecutor Siegfried Buback, his driver and a bodyguard.

She was charged with three counts of murder, but prosecutors later dropped the claim that Becker was a co-perpetrator. They argued that she had pushed for the attack and called for her to be convicted as an accessory.

Judge Hermann Wieland said that Becker supported and "knowingly and deliberately" influenced the perpetrators but it was not possible to prove that Becker was involved in carrying out the killings.

In May, Becker, 59, told the court that she was "never involved in concrete preparation" for the attack. She could not answer the question of who exactly fired the fatal shots, which has never been resolved, "because I wasn't there". Becker said she was in the Middle East on the day of the attack.

An original investigation into Becker's role in the April 7, 1977 killing - which took place during an especially bloody period of leftist violence in the then-West Germany - was closed in 1980 because of a lack of evidence.

Becker was arrested in May 1977 and convicted of armed robbery and attempted murder stemming from a shootout with police that preceded her arrest. She was sentenced to life in prison, but pardoned in 1989 by West Germany's president.

Three other Red Army Faction terrorists - Brigitte Mohnhaupt, Christian Klar and Knut Folkerts - were convicted of involvement in the Buback shooting in Karlsruhe in southwestern Germany, in which driver Wolfgang Goebel and bodyguard Georg Wurster also were killed. All refused to testify at Becker's trial.

Becker was arrested again in August 2009 after a new investigation was opened. The Red Army Faction emerged from German student protests against the Vietnam War. The group launched a violent campaign against what members considered US imperialism and capitalist oppression of workers. The organisation killed 34 people and injured hundreds. It declared itself disbanded in 1998.

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