June 4, 2019 / 2:24 PM / 14 days ago

Police investigate apparent murder of German local politician

FILE PHOTO: German police officers search neighbouring property around the house of District President of Kassel Walter Luebcke, who was found dead in Wolfhagen-Istha near Kassel, Germany, June 3, 2019. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

BERLIN (Reuters) - German police are investigating the apparent murder of a prominent local politician, known for his pro-migrant views, who was found dead of a gunshot wound at his home.

Walter Luebcke, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, was found lying in a pool of blood on the terrace of his home in the state of Hesse in the early hours of Sunday morning. He had been shot in the head.

Police from Hesse’s criminal investigation division said it remained unclear why Luebcke had been shot but they did not rule out a possible political motive.

Luebcke, who headed the Kassel regional government in the state of Hesse in central Germany, had previously come to the attention of far-right news portals for speaking out in defence of migrants at the height of Europe’s 2015 refugee crisis.

At that time, Merkel threw open Germany’s borders to more than one million migrants, mostly Muslims fleeing conflicts and poverty in the Middle East and beyond, a move that drew criticism from Germans on the right of the political spectrum.

Luebcke gave a speech in 2015 in which he advocated “Christian values” such as loving one’s neighbour, prompting at least one far-right publication to call him a “traitor” and to publish his home address.

There was no suggestion that the killing was linked to these earlier threats.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Gareth Jones

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