Thomas Schaefer, the finance minister of the German state of Hesse, reportedly committed suicide on Saturday. The minister is allegedly said to have taken his own life over worries surrounding the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis.
The 54-year-old’s mutilated body was found along the high-speed train line in the town of Hochheim, approximately 37 kilometers from Frankfurt, according to the local police. The Wiesbaden prosecution’s office said it believed that he committed suicide.
Schaefer’s body was found by passers-by, who alerted paramedics. However, identification of the remains was a challenge due to the grievous injuries. A suicide note is also said to have been found.
Schaefer was a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Having served as the finance minister of Hesse for nearly 10 years under its governor, Volker Bouffier, Schaefer had been active in state politics for over two decades. Hesse is where the country’s economic capital Frankfurt is located.
Expressing his shock over Schaefer’s demise, Bouffier said in a recorded statement:
“We are in shock, we are in disbelief and, above all, we are immensely sad.” The governor linked the minister’s death to the coronavirus pandemic-driven crisis that Germany and several European countries are facing. “It’s precisely during this difficult time that we would have needed someone like him.”
Germany is one of the worst-affected countries in Europe with over 58,000 confirmed cases and more than 450 casualties.