After a 42-year-old man killed four people – including a three-year-old boy- in the centre of Berlin with an SUV in the evening on Friday September 6th, there has been growing speculation about what happened.
Police did not believe malintent to be a probable cause, and reported that the man likely suffered a health emergency. Now the driver’s lawyer has issued a first statement, reported RBB on Monday evening.
The lawyer stated that he had “indeed confirmed that an acute health problem could have been the cause of the accident,” said a spokesman for the Berlin public prosecutor's office to RBB Abendschau.
“The indications and speculation, as they existed from the outset, have currently become more concrete,” he added.
'Can happen to anyone'
After the incident, the co-passenger had told police that the driver had possibly suffered from an epileptic seizure.
The police searched the driver's home on Friday and seized evidence, but it is not yet publicly known what the public prosecutor office confiscated.
The driver is currently under investigation for negligent manslaughter. However, a medical emergency “can happen to anyone,” said the spokesman of the prosecutor's office.
He stressed it is important to take into account “to what extent such a health situation could have been foreseeable by the defendant,” before negligence is considered as a cause.
However, the police cannot inspect his patient file because the file is subject to a so-called ban on confiscation due to medical confidentiality.
The driver could release the file, but so far he has chosen not to do so, said the spokesman.
Spawning a debate on SUVs
Following the incident, several politicians and traffic experts called into question the rising popularity of the vehicles – characterized by their broad shape and several off-road features – in Germany, and if they should be better regulated.
The district mayor of Berlin-Mitte Stephan von Dassel stated that “such tank-like cars don’t belong in the centre of cities”.
Meanwhile, protests against SUVs took place at the annual Frankfurt car show this weekend amid Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit.
Demonstrators spoke out against safety and environmental risks they feel are posed by increasingly popular vehicles. According to estimates, nearly one million will be registered for the first time in Germany this year.
The statement – (die) Stellungsahme
Indications/clues – (die) Hinweise
The file (in law or administration) – (die) Akte
Ban on confiscation – (das) Beschlagnahmeverbot
Confidentiality (in medicine or law) – (die) Schweigepflicht
Foreseeable – vorhersehbar
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