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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK
German politician 'caused own death'
Juergen Moellemann
Juergen Moellemann had a passion for parachute jumps
Investigators into the dramatic death of maverick German politician Juergen Moellemann say there was nothing wrong with the parachute he had on during his fatal fall.

Local prosecutor Wolfgang Reinicke said there were no technical defects or evidence of tampering with the parachute before the jump last Thursday, fuelling speculation that he committed suicide.

Earlier, a post mortem examination on the politician's body found he had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the jump.

That doesn't fit the picture I have of Juergen Moellemann, because he was a fighter
Hans-Dietrich Genscher
former German foreign minister
Mr Moellemann, an experienced skydiver, died at an airfield near the town of Marl in his home state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The former deputy leader of Germany's centrist Free Democratic Party (FDP) was being investigated at the time over allegations that he broke laws on party funding, fraud and breach of trust.

Search continues

Mr Moellemann, 57, had jumped with nine friends from a small plane. The others landed safely.

Shortly before, investigators began searching Mr Moellemann's home in Muenster and more than 20 other addresses in Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Spain.

Prosecutors in the city of Duesseldorf are still investigating five other suspects in the case, and a search of Mr Moellemann's holiday home in the Canary Islands continued on Friday.

Mr Moellemann jumped out of the plane at 4,000 metres (13,200 feet).

One witness, who jumped from a plane at the same time as the politician, said all the group's parachutes had opened normally.

Then suddenly the chute broke free from Mr Moellemann's body, said the witness, adding that he must have detached it himself.

Mr Moellemann's spare chute then failed to open, indicating that he must have switched off a safety mechanism in it, he said.

'Time for sympathy'

But a former colleague said he found the suicide theory difficult to believe.

"That doesn't fit the picture I have of Juergen Moellemann, because he was a fighter," said former foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher.

"When he suffered a setback - and this wasn't the first time - he started over again."

Mr Moellemann was elected to parliament in 1972 and served as education minister and later economics minister under former Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

He had a passion for skydiving and often arrived by parachute at party rallies.

Last year, he became notorious for making allegedly anti-Semitic remarks, and issued a leaflet criticising Israeli and German Jewish leaders.

The scandal led to his resignation from the FDP in March.

Obituary: Juergen Moellemann
05 Jun 03  |  Europe

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