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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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POLITICS

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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