They used to be among Germany’s most wanted: When Ernst-Volker Wilhelm Staub, Burkhard Garweg and Daniela Klette disappeared in the 1980s, West German authorities considered them to be extremely dangerous.
German authorities say all three belonged to the Red Army Faction (RAF), an extremist group that had killed politicians and businessmen throughout the preceding two decades. Also known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang, its members killed 34 people in kidnappings, bombings or assassinations between the early 1970s and 1998. Among them was Alfred Herrhausen, at that time the chairman of Deutsche Bank.
German police lost track of Staub, Garweg and Klette in the 1980s. In 1998, the RAF stopped its activities, when its members realized that their attempts to change German society had failed. Some members were convicted, others were never caught.
But the search for remaining ex-terrorists resumed last year, when authorities discovered the fingerprints of Staub, Garweg and Klette during an investigation of failed attempts to rob a money transporter. Now, there is another lead: Police say the three may be responsible for a series of supermarket robberies — carrying at least one anti-tank rocket launcher with them as their weapon.
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German police have speculated that the former RAF members could be in a dire financial situation more than two decades after their disappearance.
In Italy, the highest appeals court decided at the beginning of May that stealing smaller amounts of food might not constitute a crime, if the alleged offender could prove the “immediate and essential need for nourishment,” according to the BBC.
But the three cannot hope for similar leniency among German judges.
Officials say they are responsible for the robberies and that the gang might already have stolen as much as $420,000.
Staub, Garweg and Klette are believed to live in the neighboring Netherlands from where they allegedly plan their attacks on German targets. Although the trio is reported to be heavily armed, German media outlets have mostly reacted with mockery. “Ambush attack out of the revolutionary retirement,” Germany’s Der Spiegel news magazine commented.