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Berlin drivers mentally ill: public prosecutor

#Berlin #drivers #mentally #ill #public #prosecutor

Prosecutors will try to keep a German-Armenian accused of plowing a car through a crowd in central Berlin on psychiatric treatment after he showed signs of mental illness, a prosecutor’s spokesman said on Thursday.

The 29-year-old had shown “relatively strong” signs of paranoid schizophrenia, spokesman Sebastian Buechner said a day after a teacher was killed and 32 other people injured in the incident.

The suspect, who had an unspecified drug in his home, also relieved his doctors of their confidentiality obligations, he added.

Further investigations would clarify whether a mental illness was the cause of the crime, but a political motive is currently being ruled out, said Büchner.

The suspect is accused of driving into passers-by in a busy shopping district in the German capital, mowing down a group of teenagers and killing their teacher before crashing through a shop window.

The rampage happened just opposite Breitscheidplatz, where an Islamic State group sympathizer plowed a truck into a Christmas market in 2016, killing 12 people.

In Wednesday’s case, the silver Renault Clio with Berlin license plates first climbed onto the sidewalk, hit secondary school students on a class trip, returned to the street and then rammed the front of a perfumery.

A group teacher at a school in Bad Arolsen, a small town in central Hesse, was killed and one teacher seriously injured.

– fear of terrorism –

Frank Vittchen, a witness at the scene, told AFP he was sitting by a nearby fountain when he “heard a big crash and then also saw a person fly through the air.”

The car “ran onto the pavement at high speed and didn’t brake,” he said, with the windows shattering from the impact.

Media reports of the suspect’s escape and a confession letter found in the car had fueled fears that the incident might have been a terrorist attack.

However, Berlin’s Interior Minister Iris Spranger said on Wednesday that there was no “conclusive evidence of a political act” and that the attack was apparently “committed by someone suffering from mental health problems.”

Germany has experienced several car rammings since the deadly 2016 Christmas market attack, most carried out by people found to have mental health problems.

In December 2020, a German drove his car through a pedestrian zone in the southwestern city of Trier, killing four adults and a baby.

Earlier that year, a German rammed his car through a carnival parade in downtown Volkmarsen, injuring dozens of passers-by, including children. He was sentenced to life imprisonment last year.

In January 2019, another German injured eight people when he drove into a crowd on New Year’s Eve in the western cities of Bottrop and Essen. He later went into psychiatry.

In April 2018, a German man crashed his van into people sitting outside a restaurant in the city of Munster, killing five before shooting himself. Investigators later said he had mental health problems.

During the 2006 World Cup in Germany, a German rammed his car into a crowd gathered outside the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to watch a game, injuring about 20 people. The driver was later admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

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