German state finance minister Thomas Schäfer found dead
Police suspect Thomas Schäfer died by suicide after his body was found on train tracks near Wiesbaden. He was the finance minister for the state of Hesse, where Germany’s financial center Frankfurt lies.
The body of a man identified as Thomas Schäfer, the finance minister of the German state of Hesse, was found on a high-speed train line in the town of Hochheim between Frankfurt and Mainz, police confirmed Saturday.
The presence of a body on the tracks was first reported by witnesses to paramedics, who were unable to initially identify the remains due to the extent of the injuries.
Investigators said an investigation on the scene confirmed the identity of the man as Schäfer and that the death was likely a suicide. Police did not immediately release further details of the case.
According to media in the state of Hesse, the 54-year-old regularly appeared in public in recent days, for example, to inform the public about financial assistance during the coronavirus crisis.
Political career spanned 20 years
The Christian Democrat (CDU) politician had been active in Hessian state politics for more than two decades and finance minister for almost 10 years.
Germany’s financial capital, Frankfurt, lies in Hesse and is the state’s biggest city.
Schäfer had been widely expected to succeed state premier, Volker Bouffier, if he decided not to stand for re-election in 2023.
In a statement, Bouffier said that the state’s leadership has received the news with “sadness and disbelief.”
“We are all shocked and can hardly believe” that Schäfer died so “suddenly and unexpectedly,” Bouffier said, adding: “Our sincere condolences go to his closest relatives.”
He is due to make a further statement on Sunday at midday, during a video news conference on the coronavirus pandemic in the state.
Outgoing CDU chief Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Schäfer’s sudden death “shocked me, shocked all of us” in the party. “It has hit us and left us sad and stunned,” she wrote on Twitter.
Schäfer leaves behind a wife and two children.
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