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German minister commits suicide after ‘virus crisis concerns’

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FRANKFURT: Thomas Schaefer, finance minister of the German state of Hesse, committed suicide apparently after being “deeply concerned” about how to deal with the economic consequences of the coronavirus, state Prime Minister Volker Bouffier said on Sunday.

Schaefer, 54, was found dead near a railroad track on Saturday. The Wiesbaden prosecutor’s office said they believe he died of suicide.

“We are shocked, incredulous and, above all, we are immensely sad,” Bouffier said in a recorded statement.

Hesse is home to Germany’s financial capital Frankfurt, where major lenders like Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are based. The European Central Bank is also located in Frankfurt.

Bouffier, visibly shocked, recalled that Schaefer, who was Hesse’s chief financial officer for 10 years, had been working “day and night” to help companies and workers cope with the economic impact of the pandemic.

“Today we have to assume that he was deeply concerned,” said Bouffier, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“It is precisely during this difficult time that we would have needed someone like him.”

Popular and respected, Schaefer had long been touted as a possible successor to Bouffier.

Like Bouffier, Schaefer belonged to Merkel’s center-right CDU party.

Leave a wife and two children.

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