Presidential bodyguard suspended after losing gun in Berlin hotel

A search is underway for a missing gun that belonged to a bodyguard who is part of the unit responsible for German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, as well as former presidents.

Presidential bodyguard suspended after losing gun in Berlin hotel
Archive photo shows a Glock 17 service weapon. Photo: DPA

The bodyguard of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) reported his service weapon missing around 4am on Wednesday morning, according to BKA, reports the Tagesspiegel.

The gun is said to have gone missing in a three-star hotel in the gritty southern Berlin district of Neukölln, near the Grenzallee underground station. 

A search is now underway for the ‘Glock 17’ pistol, which was lost along with its ammunition. 

According to reports, the officer is from the personal protection unit in the Lower Saxony State Criminal Police Office, who currently works for the BKA in 'Security Group 1'.

That unit is responsible for protecting incumbent and former federal presidents, and is based in the Treptow district, 15 minutes away from the hotel where the gun disappeared.

SEE ALSO: Five things to know about guns in Germany

Initial reports said the man was a bodyguard for current president Steinmeier.

However, the office of the Federal President has pointed out that this official “is not responsible for Frank-Walter Steinmeier”. And that “none of Frank-Walter Steinmeier's bodyguards is missing a service weapon”.
This makes it clear that the officer may have been responsible for the protection of a former president as part of the special unit, but it is not clear for whom. Former presidents who have previously been protected by the unit include Horst Köhler, Christian Wulff and Joachim Gauk.

The officer has been suspended from his duties while the probe is underway. The Berlin public prosecutor's office has taken over the investigation.

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German President Steinmeier receives AstraZeneca jab

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday received the first dose of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, just two days after authorities recommended use of the controversial jab only for people aged 60 and over.

German President Steinmeier receives AstraZeneca jab
Steinmeier received the vaccine Berlin's Military Hospital on Thursday. Photo: DPA

“I trust the vaccines authorised in Germany,” Steinmeier, 65, said in a statement after getting inoculated at Berlin’s Military Hospital.

“Vaccinating is the decisive step on the path out of the pandemic. Use the opportunities available. Join in!” he added.

German officials have been at pains to shore up public confidence in AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which has been on a rollercoaster ride in Europe.

Germany’s STIKO vaccine commission on Tuesday said it recommended use of the jab only for people 60 and older following concerns over several blood clotting cases among younger recipients of the vaccine.

People under the age of 60 can still take AstraZeneca in consultation with their doctor and if they are fully aware of the potential risks.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why has Germany restricted the use of AstraZeneca in under 60s?

German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who is 40 years old, told reporters Thursday that he would be willing to take AstraZeneca “when it’s my turn”.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has also said she is up for the Anglo-Swedish company’s vaccine when it is her turn.

Efforts to talk up the jab’s effectiveness among elderly people were undermined by 71-year-old Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who told the topselling Bild daily he had no plans to take AstraZeneca.

“The answer to Jens Spahn’s appeal (to the elderly) is no,” Seehofer said, adding that he had nothing against AstraZeneca but didn’t want to be “patronised”.

Several other countries, including France, Spain and Canada, have also imposed age limits on the AstraZeneca shot over the occurrence of rare but very severe blood clots.

The European Medicines Agency on Wednesday said experts probing links between AstraZeneca’s vaccine and the rare reports of clotting have found no specific risk factors, but are investigating further.

The World Health Organization has also said that the AstraZeneca shot is safe.

READ ALSO: AstraZeneca vaccine ‘safe and effective’ against Covid-19, European Medical Agency concludes