German docu prompts calls to reopen RAF suicide case


Leading German politicians are calling for a new investigation into a 30-year-old terrorism case after a TV documentary revealed that the German government might have been complicit in the suicide deaths of three members of a 1970s left-wing terror group.

The two-part documentary, "RAF," which aired this week on German public broadcaster ARD, investigates the final days of Red Army Faction terrorists Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe, who killed themselves in prison on Oct. 17, 1977.

According to "RAF" directors Stefan Aust and Helmar Buchel, prison and German authorities had planted illegal wiretaps in the cells of the terrorists and might have been listening in when they planned their joint suicide.

"I find the very idea unbelievable and intolerable, that state authorities may have known about the suicide plans and done nothing to prevent them," Dieter Weifelsputz, a parliamentary spokesman for Germany's ruling Social Democratic Party, said Friday as he called for an investigation into the allegations.

Seconding the call was Horse Herold, the former head of Germany's Federal Criminal Police Department, who was in charge in the late '70s. He said he "knew nothing" about the wiretapping, and he has demanded a federal investigation.

German audiences are being bombarded by documentaries on the Red Army Faction in advance of the 30th anniversary of the group suicide, which marked the unofficial end of its wave of terror. Many observers see parallels between that time in Germany and the post-Sept. 11 world of sleeper cells, bomb plots and media hysteria.

Germany's leading film producer, Bernd Eichinger, has seized on the topic for his upcoming film "Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex." Nico Hofmann, one of the country's top TV producers, is shooting the big-budget miniseries "Mogadishu," about the Red Army Faction's most notorious crime: the hijacking of a Lufthansa flight to Somalia in 1977.