German state finance minister ‘kills himself’

A German state finance minister has been found dead in an apparent suicide which has been linked to the coronavirus crisis, officials said today.

Thomas Schaefer, 54, minister for the Hesse region, was found dead on railway tracks at Hochhein, near Frankfurt, on Saturday.

Authorities said Mr Schaefer appeared to have killed himself, with state governor Volker Bouffier suggesting on Sunday he was in despair over the coronavirus crisis.

Thomas Schaefer, 54, finance minister for the Hesse region, was found dead on railway tracks at Hochhein, near Frankfurt, on Saturday

Thomas Schaefer, 54, finance minister for the Hesse region, was found dead on railway tracks at Hochhein, near Frankfurt, on Saturday

Thomas Schaefer, 54, finance minister for the Hesse region, was found dead on railway tracks at Hochhein, near Frankfurt, on Saturday

Police and prosectors said witness statements and observations at the scene had led them to believe the minister, who was a member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, had killed himself.

Mr Bouffier added that Mr Schaefer was worried about ‘whether it would be possible to succeed in fulfilling the population’s huge expectations, particularly of financial help’ amid the coronavirus crisis. 

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

Empty streets near Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin yesterday as the nation battles coronavirus

Empty streets near Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin yesterday as the nation battles coronavirus

Empty streets near Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin yesterday as the nation battles coronavirus

Authorities said Mr Schaefer (pictured) appeared to have killed himself, with state governor Volker Bouffier suggesting on Sunday he was in despair over the coronavirus crisis

Authorities said Mr Schaefer (pictured) appeared to have killed himself, with state governor Volker Bouffier suggesting on Sunday he was in despair over the coronavirus crisis

Authorities said Mr Schaefer (pictured) appeared to have killed himself, with state governor Volker Bouffier suggesting on Sunday he was in despair over the coronavirus crisis

German parish priest Joachim Giesler holds a service in front of pictures of parishioners in Achern yesterday

German parish priest Joachim Giesler holds a service in front of pictures of parishioners in Achern yesterday

German parish priest Joachim Giesler holds a service in front of pictures of parishioners in Achern yesterday

The priest asked parishioners to send photos because the congregation was banned due to the country's coronavirus lockdown laws

The priest asked parishioners to send photos because the congregation was banned due to the country's coronavirus lockdown laws

The priest asked parishioners to send photos because the congregation was banned due to the country’s coronavirus lockdown laws

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.

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

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