Prosecutors investigate sudden death of German politician on flight from Cuba

A politician from Angela Merkel’s CDU party collapsed and died on a trans-Atlantic flight on Sunday, leading German prosecutors to seek further details about the circumstances of her death.

Prosecutors investigate sudden death of German politician on flight from Cuba
Karin Strenz. credit: dpa | Marcus Brandt

Karin Strenz, a 53-year-old member of the Bundestag for the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, was pronounced dead on arrival, after her flight from Cuba performed an emergency landing at Dublin Shannon airport. She had collapsed during the flight.

Prosecutors in Schwerin confirmed on Monday that they had opened an investigation and have asked Irish authorities for the results of a post mortem.

“We assume that a post mortem has taken place in Ireland,” a spokesperson for the Schwerin prosecution service told the German Press Agency.

The spokesperson said that it is normal practise to start an investigation in such circumstances.

Strenz had been a member of the Bundestag since 2009. She had been in Cuba with her husband.

On Monday, a spokesperson for the Bundestag said that she had not visited the island state on parliamentary business. A spokesperson for the CDU party also said that she had not been on a party delegation there.

Currently, all but essentially travel at home and abroad is discouraged by the German government due to the ongoing pandemic. Cuba is currently classified as a high risk area due to the island having a 7-day incidence above 50.

CDU faction leader in the Bundestag Ralph Brinkhaus said that “the sudden death of our colleague Karin Strenz has affected us all. Our condolences go out to her family in these difficult times.”

According to a report in Spiegel, Strenz was caught up in a lobbying scandal in 2019, when she was suspected of taking bribes from the government of Azerbaijan in return for lobbying on their behalf.  According to Tagesschau, she was suspected of taking €4 million in bribes over shell companies based in the UK.

Her immunity as a member of the Bundestag was suspended while prosecutors investigated the case. While she did not stand down at the time, she had announced that she would not stand for election again at this autumn’s federal election.

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‘A good thing’ for footballers to express values, says France’s PM

France's Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne - speaking in Berlin - said that footballers should be allowed to express their values, amid controversy over FIFA's stance against the 'OneLove' armband on the pitch.

'A good thing' for footballers to express values, says France's PM

“There are rules for what happens on the field but I think it’s a good thing for players to be able to express themselves on the values that we obviously completely share, while respecting the rules of the tournament,” said Borne at a press conference in Berlin on Friday.

Germany’s players made headlines before Wednesday’s shock loss to Japan when the team lined up for their pre-match photo with their hands covering their mouths after FIFA’s threat to sanction players wearing the rainbow-themed armband.

Seven European nations, including Germany, had previously planned for their captains to wear the armband, but backed down over FIFA’s warning.

Following Germany’s action, Wales and the Netherlands have since come out to say they would not mirror the protest.

Borne’s visit to Germany was her first since she was named to her post in May.

Following talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the two leaders signed an agreement for “mutual support” on “guaranteeing their energy supplies”.

Concrete measures outlined in the deal include France sending Germany gas supplies as Berlin seeks to make up for gaping holes in deliveries from Russia.

Germany meanwhile would help France “secure its electricity supplies over winter”, according to the document.

France had since 1981 been a net exporter of electricity to its neighbours because of its nuclear plants. But maintenance issues dogging the plants have left France at risk of power cuts in case of an extremely cold winter.

The two leaders also affirmed their countries’ commitment to backing Ukraine “to the end of” its conflict with invaders Russia.