DUESSELDORF, West Germany (AP) _ A state court Wednesday convicted two Red Army Faction terrorists of the 1977 kidnap-murder of a West German industrialist and sentenced them to life in prison.
The court found Adelheid Schulz, 29, and Rolf-Klemens Wagner, 40, guilty in the slaying of Hans-Martin Schleyer, president of the Federal Association of German Employers, and his four bodyguards.
Reading from a lengthy verdict, presiding judge Klaus Arend described the defendants as active gang members who had also taken part in several of the group’s bombings and bank robberies during the late 1970s.
Evidence presented during the 18-month trial proved the defendants ″aimed to destroy this state and its institutions through violence,″ Arend said.
The left-wing Red Army Faction has waged guerrilla war against the government for 15 years. It demands that West Germany resign from NATO and get rid of U.S. troops on its soil.
The group was blamed for the 1974 killing of West Berlin court president Guenter von Drenkmann and the slaying three years later of Chief Federal Prosecutor Siegfried Buback and banker Juergen Ponto.
Police rounded up many of the gang members blamed for the killings but they say a new generation of extremists has since reinforced the group. They estimate the group and its active sympathizers number between 300 and 400 people.
On Feb. 1, the group claimed responsibility for killing Ernst Zimmermann, who was chairmnan of the giant West German MTU aircraft company.
The attack followed a wave of bombings staged in support of a prison hunger strike by about 30 accused and convicted terrorists demanding status as prisoners of war.
A bomb was found outside a U.S. Army officer’s club in Boeblingen on Tuesday but no one claimed responsibility. Army installations have been the targets in recent months of bombs blamed on the gang or its sympathizers.
The Duesseldorf state court found Ms. Schulz and Wagner guilty of murder, extortion, kidnapping and attempted coercion of federal authorities.
Wagner, a former travel agency salesman, was given two consecutive life terms in prison.
Ms. Schulz, once a nurse’s aide, was also convicted of the July 30, 1977, murder of Ponto, who was chairman of the Dresdner Bank, and sentenced to three consecutive life terms.
Life sentences can be reviewed after 15 years.
Arend described Ms. Schulz as a ″fanatic″ and a ″criminal of the worst sort.″
Wagner and Ms. Schulz, sitting together on the defendants’ bench, conversed quietly throughout the three-hour proceeding and appeared to take no notice of Arend’s statement.
The Schleyer kidnapping was part of an attempt to force the government to release convicted members of the Red Army Faction, including gang leaders Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe.
When the government refused to bow to their demands, Baader, Ennslin and Raspe committed suicide in their prison cells in Stuttgart and another gang member, Ingrid Schubert, took her own life in a Munich prison, authorities said.