German politician dies after flight makes emergency stop at Shannon

Karin Strenz (53) pronounced dead after being brought to University Hospital Limerick

A flight from Cuba to Germany was forced to make an emergency stop at Shannon Airport, Co Clare, after a German politician on board lost consciousness.

Karin Strenz (53), who represented the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the Bundestag for Angela Merkel's CDU party, was later pronounced dead after being taken to hospital upon landing on Sunday.

It was not clear on Sunday night whether Ms Strenz was on a personal or work-related trip to Cuba, or what caused her death, with a postmortem being required to establish why she lost consciousness. It is understood she was with her husband on the plane, which was flying to Frankfurt, when a medical emergency was reported and the pilot was cleared to make an unscheduled stop at about 7.30am in Shannon.

Ms Strenz was taken from the plane by paramedics to University Hospital Limerick, where she was pronounced dead. The flight she had been on continued its journey to Frankfurt.


In reply to queries, Garda HQ at the Phoenix Park in Dublin confirmed a woman who had been on a flight that landed at Shannon later died, but made no comment on her identity.

“Gardaí­ and emergency services were alerted to a medical emergency on board a flight which landed at Shannon Airport, Co Clare, at approximately 7.30pm,” it said of the Sunday morning landing.

“A woman (50s) was taken to University Hospital Limerick from the aircraft. The woman was pronounced deceased a short time later. Arrangements have been made for a postmortem to take place.”

Formal investigation

Ms Strenz was one of a group of politicians in Ms Merkel's party being investigated for allegedly taking money from Azerbaijan in exchange for lobbying on behalf of the authoritarian, oil-rich former Soviet republic. State prosecutors began a formal investigation into her in January.

She served from 2002 in the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state parliament, switching to the Bundestag in 2009.

In 2019 she admitted a company that she ran, Line M-Trade, accepted €15,000 in donations in 2014 and 2015 without saying where the money came from.

Around the same time, she voted against a motion in the Council of Europe, the European human rights body, demanding that Azerbaijan release political prisoners. A Council of Europe report in 2018 found evidence of corruption, and banned Ms Strenz for life from the body.

Earlier this year the Bundestag imposed a fine of €20,000 on her for accepting the undeclared donations. She was facing a full investigation – one of three centre-right politicians accused of lobbying work for Azerbaijan – and faced a prison sentence of up to five years.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin