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

According to prosecutors in both Italy and Germany, the motorist turned himself in earlier this week and is currently being held in extradition custody

The lorry driver accused of hitting and killing Davide Rebellin in Italy late last year, before briefly getting out of his cab to look at the retired Italian classics star and driving off, has been arrested in Germany, according to prosecutors in both countries.

62-year-old Wolfgang Rieke, who continued to work and drive for his brother’s haulage firm in Recke, North Rhine-Westphalia, in the wake of the tragic incident last November, is accused of traffic homicide and leaving the scene of a collision, and was the subject of a European arrest warrant.

> Davide Rebellin killed in reported hit-and-run collision involving lorry driver

According to a statement issued today by Elmar Pleus, of the public prosecutor’s office in Hamm, the lorry driver turned himself in to the police in Steinfurt on Thursday and is currently being held in extradition custody in Münster based on a detention order issued by the local court in Rheine.

Pleus also told the Associated Press that a decision by prosecutors on Italy’s extradition request is being prepared. According to EU law, the German prosecutors have 60 days to decide whether to extradite Rieke to Italy.

Vicenza prosecutor Lino Giorgio Bruno also confirmed today that Rieke was arrested this week on a European arrest warrant.

> Lorry driver who killed Davide Rebellin reportedly got out of cab, looked at dead cyclist, then drove off

Rebellin, who retired at the end of last season at the age of 51 following three decades as a professional rider, had been on a training ride near his home in northern Italy on 30 November when he was struck and killed by the truck driver, who – according to roadside video and witness photos – got out of his cab, briefly approached the victim, and then returned to his truck and left the scene.

Rieke was quickly identified after police in Germany co-operated with Carabinieri investigating the crash. However, he was placed under arrest because unlike in Italy, there is no crime of “omicidio stradale” – “traffic homicide” – under German law, with the driver fleeing to his home country.

According to the statement by the prosecutors in Hamm, after the authorities seized the truck, which had been driven first to Verona before returning to Germany four days after the crash, experts identified damage consistent with the collision and found that the vehicle had been cleaned with a concentrated, highly acidic detergent.

Prosecutors noted that the cab contained functioning video cameras and mirrors which would have given the driver a full view of Rebellin prior to the crash.

However, the former Gerolsteiner leader was also found to have violated road rules having failed to give way to the lorry driver, though the prosecutor’s statement emphasised that “such a violation had no causal effect” on the collision, due to the amount of time between it and the fatal crash.

> Lorry driver who killed Davide Rebellin failed to stop at scene of fatal collision because he didn’t think he was at fault, says brother

Speaking to the Italian news programme Le Iene last month, Jürgen Rieke, the owner of the Rieke Transporte company for whom the accused has continued to work since the incident, claimed that his brother was “convinced he had nothing to do with what happened”.

“My brother certainly didn’t want to do any harm intentionally, he was driving a highly technological vehicle which as soon as it turns shows the presence of cyclists and pedestrians,” Rieke said.

“If he stayed there for 10 seconds, it is because he was convinced he had nothing to do with what happened. At the moment he is shaken and the investigation is ongoing so he will not issue statements.

“He didn’t run away, he just left because he didn’t realize he was guilty,” he continued. “If in Italy the police had done their job and not the press, the matter would have already been clarified. Tell Rebellin’s family that we suffer greatly from what happened.”

The lorry driver has two prior driving convictions in Italy, the first of those relating to an incident in Foggia, Puglia, in 2001, in which he was subsequently convicted of fleeing the scene of a crash without stopping to give assistance to those involved in it.

The second incident, in 2014, saw him banned from driving after traffic police in Chieti, Abruzzo, found him drunk at the wheel of his lorry.

Davide Rebellin leads Schleck brothers and Valverde at LBL 2008 (licensed CC BY-SA 3.0 lu by Les Meloures)

> I’m fortunate I can try to contemplate why a driver would knock me off my bike: Davide Rebellin didn’t get that chance

Also speaking to Le Iene last month, Rebellin’s brother Carlo discussed the effects of the retired pro’s tragic death and its complicated aftermath on his family.

“Accidents can happen, but you can’t not help. My brother was treated like an object, no one even tried to apologise to us,” the 40-year-old said.

In the weeks after Rebellin’s death, the Italian professional cyclists’ union, the ACCPI, criticised what they regarded as a lack of action from the authorities.

“You can kill a cyclist, flee abroad driving your lorry and continue to live as though nothing happened,” the ACCPI said in December, “while the person you killed is still waiting for their autopsy and his devastated family has not yet been able to arrange his funeral.”

Ryan joined in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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Christopher TR1 | 11 months ago

Scum. Hope they lock him up and throw away the key!

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