Preliminary procedure against district manager for wrongful death | free press


About three weeks after the flooding in the Ahr Valley, the public prosecutor’s office is now investigating suspicions of culpable homicide and physical injury. Was the warning and eviction received too late?

Koblenz (dpa) – The Koblenz Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation against Jürgen Pföhler (CDU), the district administrator of the Ahrweiler district particularly affected by the flood disaster.

Authorities said it was the initial suspicion of wrongful death and negligent bodily harm caused by a disturbance on the night of the July 14 flood. The initial suspicion is against the district administrator because, according to the law, he “may have commanded operations and had some decision-making power”.

Clues to the first suspicion

The proceedings are also directed against another member of the crisis team who, according to the current state of affairs, has taken over “at least temporarily”, the public prosecutor explains. There was “sufficient factual evidence” that warnings and possible evacuations would have been necessary from about 8:30 p.m. on July 14. “This – so the initial suspicion – apparently was not, not with the necessary clarity or only late, in an inspection that could be accused of negligence.”

141 dead in the Ahr Valley

Extreme heavy rainfall caused a tidal wave on the Ahr in northern Rhineland-Palatinate on 14 and 15 July and flooded large parts of the valley. About 42,000 people are affected by the effects of the flood. The death toll in the Ahr Valley now stands at 141, with 17 still missing.

The Koblenz prosecutor’s office also announced that there was an initial suspicion that a corresponding negligence therein had become “(partially) causal”, at least for some of the deaths and personal injuries that occurred. A review of studies into the deaths of flood victims found that deaths occurred mainly downstream of Ahrbrück, with a major focus in the town of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler.

Before the initiation of the investigation, the public prosecutor had set up an e-mail address to collect information about the flood disaster on the Ahr. In essence, it is about whether the warning was given too late. District administrator Pföhler had actually invited a press conference about the current situation for Friday morning. This appointment was canceled at short notice.