A German court has ordered the release of Brigitte Mohnhaupt, a former member of the Red Army Faction (RAF) who has spent 24 years in prison for her role in multiple kidnappings and murders during the 1970s.
The decision is likely to cause controversy because she has expressed no remorse for the murders which shook postwar West Germany.
The Stuttgart court said in a statement: "This is not a pardon, rather a decision that is based on specific legal considerations. The decision for probation was reached based on the determination that no security risk exists."
Mohnhaupt will be released on five years probation on March 27.
The ruling comes as Horst Koehler, the German president, considers a pardon for Mohnhaupt's former RAF colleague Christian Klar, who has also spent the past 24 years in prison.
Mohnhaupt, 57, was arrested in 1982 and sentenced to five life sentences for her role in the murders of leading German figures including industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer, Dresdner Bank head Juergen Ponto and federal prosecutor Siegfried Buback.
Also known as the "Baader-Meinhof Gang" after founders Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, the RAF rose from the student protests of the late 1960s and the anti-Vietnam war movement.
Its members started by experimenting in alternative lifestyles in the communes of West Berlin and Hamburg before turning violent in a campaign of assassinations, kidnappings and bombings against the German elite and US military personnel.
The group, which announced that it was disbanding in 1998, is suspected of killing 34 people between 1972 and 1991. About
26 RAF members died during that period and another 26 were sentenced to life in prison.
Many of them, mostly secondary members, have since been released or pardoned and now work as teachers, accountants, filmmakers and journalists, some under assumed names. Only four, including Mohnhaupt and Klar, remain imprisoned.
Mohnhaupt was a prominent member of a second generation of RAF members who continued the class war after Baader and Meinhof were caught and committed suicide.