German Politician Charged With Manslaughter in Ski Crash | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 02.03.2009
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German Politician Charged With Manslaughter in Ski Crash

A German politician has been charged with manslaughter after he collided with a woman while skiing in Austria on New Year's Day. If found guilty for negligence, Dieter Althaus could face one year in prison.

Dieter Althaus

Althaus said he doesn't remember the crash

Austrian officials have charged Althaus, the German State Premier of Thuringia, with manslaughter by negligence.

Althaus had submitted written testimony in which he "assumed responsibility for the death of Beata Christandl," a prosecutor in the Austrian town of Leoben said Monday, March 2.

Christandl, 41, died shortly after colliding with Althaus on a slope in the province of Styria.

Campaign plans unchanged

A cross at the place where the crash occurred

Althaus allegedly entered the slope against the direction of traffic

The indictment comes six months before state elections in Thuringia, for which Althaus is to campaign as the leading candidate of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU). He has not come back to work since the crash, in which he received severe injuries.

"This charge does not come as a surprise," Thuringia's Social Minister Christine Lieberknecht told the Mitteldeutschen Zeitung on Monday.

Lieberknecht said she expected Althaus to campaign for the August election despite the charges.

Althaus not back to work

The prosecution alleges that the politician had entered onto a slope against the direction of traffic shortly before crashing into the Slovakia-born woman, who later died of severe head injuries.

Althaus testified that he has no recollection of the incident, in which he suffered head injuries himself.

The German politician faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison. No date for the trial has been set yet. After the accident, Althaus was put into an induced coma for several days.

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