Death of German finance official linked to virus crisis

Health

File—In this file picture taken April 24, 2019 Thomas Schäfer (CDU), Minister of Finance of Hesse, comments on the status of the evaluation of the “Panama Papers” at a press conference in Frankfurt, Germany. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP, file)

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BERLIN (AP) — The state finance minister of Germany’s Hesse region, which includes Frankfurt, has been found dead. Authorities said he appears to have killed himself and the state’s governor suggested Sunday that he was in despair over the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

The body of Thomas Schaefer, a 54-year-old member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, was found Saturday on railway tracks at Hochheim, near Frankfurt.

Police and prosecutors said that factors including questioning of witnesses and their own observations at the scene led them to conclude that Schaefer killed himself.

State governor Volker Bouffier linked Schaefer’s death to the virus crisis on Sunday.

Bouffier said Schaefer was worried about “whether it would be possible to succeed in fulfilling the population’s huge expectations, particularly of financial help.”

“I have to assume that these worries overwhelmed him,” Bouffier said. “He apparently couldn’t find a way out. He was in despair and left us.”

Germany’s federal and state governments have drawn up huge aid packages to cushion the blow of largely shutting down public life to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Schaefer had been Hesse’s state finance minister for a decade.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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