No mercy?

Germany’s President Köhler made the right decision. He apparently carefully considered the petition for a pardon for Christian Klar and then decided to deny it. The political right in Germany was all in a huff over the fact that he even as much as considered the request, especially after it became public that he met with Klar. The left was in the awkward position of lending support to a president they usually don’t much care for. Köhler may be an egomaniac and a capitalist pig, but he did establish a new benchmark for the independence of the German presidency from politics.

Klar is a convicted murderer and terrorist. Christian Klar was a member of the German terrorist group Rote Armee Fraktion (Red Army Faction) or RAF. In 1982, he was convicted of 9 murders and 11 attempted murders between 1977 and 1981 and he was sentenced to 6 life sentences. German law, however, considers any number of multiple life sentences as a single life sentence. Also, most prisoners have the right to be released on parole after a certain amount of time. In Klar’s case, the court decided that he has to have served at least 26 years, before he has the right to be released on parole. That means Klar might get released from prison in 2009.

Klar has not helped the authorities in any way in clearing up some of the remaining questions about the RAF. He has not publicly shown any signs of a change of position or regret. Clearly, at the time his actions were politically motivated. But the way the RAF dehumanized anyone who represented the state, made them more similar to the “fascists” they said they were fighting against, than the “workers” they said they were fighting for. And the fact that they were helped by the Stalinist regime in East Berlin made them into nothing more than pawns in the Cold War.

The RAF showed no mercy – not even to the drivers and body guards, the regular cops and soldiers, all of whom were just doing their jobs, albeit for what the RAF considered the “wrong side.” It seems to me that the German legal system was fair enough for Klar and his kind. And it seems fair enough that he should serve his sentence like anyone else. He’s lucky he’s a dissident in this Germany. Had he been a dissident in East Germany or the Soviet Union, he would have had no lawyers, and the Stalinist henchmen would have shown no mercy. There, dissidents usually died in the Gulag.

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