Merkel party politician slain; German police say no suspects

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BERLIN (AP) — A politician from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head outside his home in Hesse state, German authorities confirmed Monday, saying they haven’t identified suspects or a possible motive.

Walter Luebcke, who was in charge of the Kassel area regional administration, was found outside his home early Sunday morning by a relative and attempts to reanimate him were unsuccessful, said Hesse prosecutor Horst Streiff.

An autopsy confirmed that the 65-year-old died from a pistol shot to the head, fired at close range, Streiff said.

A homicide investigation has been opened but at the moment “we have no concrete information on a suspect or a motive,” he said.

Luebcke, a long-time member of Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Party, in 2015 received threats after speaking out in support of helping asylum-seekers. The head of the Hesse state criminal police, Sabine Thurau, told reporters the earlier threats had “no connection to the current crime, according to our knowledge.”

Neither Streiff nor Thurau would give further details, including whether the weapon used to kill Luebcke had been found or whether there were any witnesses.

“This first phase after the crime is very decisive for the success of the investigation,” Thurau said. “We don’t want speculation to endanger the investigation.”

Her office has set up a special commission with 20 police officers to investigate, she said.

Luebcke lived on the outskirts of the central city of Kassel, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) northeast of Frankfurt.

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