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Ex-Red Army Faction member goes on trial

Ex-Red Army Faction member goes on trial

A former member of the leftist Red Army Faction went on trial Thursday over her alleged role in the murder 33 years ago of West Germany's chief federal prosecutor, one of the group's most notorious killings.
Prosecutors have charged Verena Becker, 58, with three counts of murder for allegedly playing a leading role in the fatal ambush of prosecutor Siegfried Buback, his driver and a bodyguard.
Becker, wearing a pair of sunglasses, declined to respond to the charges at the Stuttgart state court.
"Ms. Becker does not want to give further details at this time about herself or the matter at hand," defense lawyer Walter Venedy told the court, the German news agency DAPD reported.
Becker could face life in prison if convicted.
An original investigation into Becker's role in the April 7, 1977 slaying, which took place during an especially bloody period of leftist violence in then-West Germany known as the "German Autumn," was closed in 1980 because of a lack of evidence.
Becker had already been 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 then-President Richard von Weizsaecker and released.
Three other Red Army Faction terrorists were convicted of involvement in the Buback shooting in Karlsruhe, in which driver Wolfgang Goebl and bodyguard Georg Wurster also were killed. It remains unclear who fired the gun.
Becker was arrested in August 2009 after a new investigation was opened, but set free in December by a federal court that said she didn't pose a flight risk.
The new investigation was based in part on new evidence generated using DNA samples, including one linking Becker to a letter from the RAF sent on the day of the attack.
The Red Army Faction emerged from German student protests against the Vietnam War, and launched a violent campaign against what members considered U.S. imperialism and capitalist oppression of workers.
The organization killed 34 people and injured hundreds. It declared itself disbanded in 1998.