Four killed as car ploughs into pedestrians in Germany

Published December 2, 2020
People light candles at the landmark monument, the Porta Nigra, for the victims after a car drove into pedestrians in Trier, southwestern Germany, on December 1. — AFP
People light candles at the landmark monument, the Porta Nigra, for the victims after a car drove into pedestrians in Trier, southwestern Germany, on December 1. — AFP

BERLIN: Four people, including a nine-month-old baby, were killed and up to 15 injured on Tuesday when a speeding car ploughed into a pedestrian area in the western German city of Trier in what authorities said appeared to be a deliberate act.

Witnesses said people screamed in panic and some were thrown into the air by the car as it crashed through the shopping zone.

“We have arrested one person, one vehicle has been secured,” police said, adding that a 51-year-old German suspect from the Trier area had been overpowered within minutes of the incident and was now being questioned, police said.

Prosecutor Peter Fritzen later told a news conference the suspect had drunk a significant amount of alcohol, and authorities were not working on the assumption that there was any Islamist militant motive to the incident.

Trier Mayor Wolfram Leibe said: “It looks as if we are talking about a suspect with mental issues, but we should not pass premature judgement.”

Authorities said a more thorough assessment of his mental health would be necessary to determine whether he could be held criminally liable.

The suspect had spent the last few nights in the vehicle and did not seem to have a fixed address, a police official said. He had borrowed the vehicle, which was registered in someone else’s name, and did not appear to have a police record.

Mayor Leibe said a nine-month-old baby was among the dead.

The interior minister of Rhineland-Palatinate state, Roger Lewentz, said two women aged 25 and 73 and a man, 45, all from Trier, were also killed. Four of the injured were in critical condition. The route taken by the driver showed he carried out the act on purpose, he said.

“We have a driver who ran amok in the city,” Leibe told a public broadcaster.

“I just walked through the city centre and it was just horrible. There is a trainer lying on the ground, and the girl it belongs to is dead,” he said. He told broadcaster N-TV that people who saw the incident were “totally traumatised”.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2020

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