BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors said Thursday they have determined that climate protesters weren’t responsible for the death in October of a cyclist after their road blockade caused a delay in the arrival of a rescue vehicle at an accident scene.
The Oct. 31 incident in Berlin fueled controversy over the tactics of the Last Generation group, whose actions also have included throwing mashed potatoes at a Claude Monet painting in an art museum and disrupting traffic at airports. Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged activists to show “creativity” and avoid endangering others.
Berlin’s fire service said at the time that blockades resulted in officers with special rescue equipment getting stuck in traffic as they rushed to help a seriously injured cyclist who got stuck under a cement mixer.
Prosecutors in the German capital said Thursday that they looked into whether the death of the cyclist could have been prevented if it hadn’t been for a delay caused by two Last Generation activists accused of causing the partial closure of a highway by hanging banners from a traffic sign and gluing themselves to it.
They found that the blockade did cause an eight-minute delay to the arrival of a rescue vehicle. But they said that wasn’t significant to the cyclist’s fate as a doctor had already determined that using the vehicle’s equipment likely would have worsened the victim’s condition further and another course of action made more sense.
An autopsy later found that the cyclist had already suffered such severe injuries in the accident that her life couldn’t have been saved, prosecutors said in a statement.
They said that the activists have been charged with coercion and resisting enforcement officers over the protest, but they won’t face charges related to the injury or death of the cyclist.
The prosecutors’ decision came as climate activists gear up for a new round of protests in Berlin in the coming days and weeks. They point to what they say is the government’s failure to properly address the threat of climate change.