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German court approves extradition of lorry driver involved in Davide Rebellin’s death

Wolfgang Rieke faces charges of traffic homicide and failure to render assistance in relation to crash that killed ex-pro cyclist

A court in Germany has approved the extradition to Italy of the lorry driver involved in the crash near Vicenza last November in which retired professional cyclist Davide Rebellin lost his life.

Italian cycling website Tuttobiciweb reports that a court in Hamm, North Rhine-Westphalia, has agreed to a request from prosecutors in Vicenza for the driver, Wolfgang Rieke, to be extradited to Italy.

After the fatal crash in Montebello Vicentino on 30 November last year, the 62-year-old driver got out of his cab briefly to assess the cyclist’s condition.

He then fled the scene and, after stopping in Verona, drove to Germany, where his brother’s haulage firm is based, four days after the fatal crash.

Rebellin, who had recently retired from professional cycling at the age of 51 following a career spanning three decades, was pronounced dead at the scene due to the trauma of the crash and severe internal injuries.

Italian authorities have been hampered in their efforts to bring Rieke to trial because there is no equivalent in Germany to the Italian law of “omocidio stradale,” or “traffic homicide.”

Police in Germany have continued to work alongside their Italian counterparts in the investigation, however, and an examination of the lorry Rieke was driving discovered damage consistent with the collision, as well as evidence that it had been cleaned with a concentrated, highly acidic detergent.

Subsequently, Rieke was arrested in Germany last month under a European arrest warrant relating to traffic homicide and failure to render assistance, and spent four days in custody.

> Lorry driver who killed Davide Rebellin arrested in Germany – almost seven months after retired classics star’s death

Following the approval yesterday by the court in Hamm for his extradition, it now falls upon the Italian and German foreign and justice ministries to agree the details of his transfer to Italy, where investigating magistrates have requested that he be placed in prison while awaiting trial.

Rieke is no stranger to the Italian justice system, and has two prior convictions to his name for driving-related offences committed in the country.

In 2001, he was convicted of fleeing the scene of a crash in Foggia, Puglia, without stopping to render assistance to those involved, while in 2014, he was handed a driving ban after being found drunk at the wheel of his vehicle in Chieti, Abruzzo.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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