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Man dies after being detained by Berlin police during COVID-19 rules protest

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By Euronews & AP
Demonstrators walk along Bismarckstrasse in Berlin, Sunday Aug. 1, 2021, during a protest against coronavirus restrictions.
Demonstrators walk along Bismarckstrasse in Berlin, Sunday Aug. 1, 2021, during a protest against coronavirus restrictions.   -   Copyright  Fabian Sommer/(c) Copyright 2021, dpa ( Alle Rechte vorbehalten

A 49-year-old man has died after being detained by officers during protests against the German government's measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, police said on Monday.

Police that the man had complained of tingling in his arm and chest while officers checked his ID in the capital's Mitte district, where thousands of protesters had rallied on Sunday despite an official ban on demonstrations.

About 600 people were detained during the demonstrations, which saw outbursts of violence as protesters defied orders to disperse and tried to break through police lines.

Officers provided first aid to the man until an ambulance arrived and took him to the hospital, where he later died, police said.

An investigation has been opened into the man's death.

Authorities are yet to provide a figure for how many protesters and officers were injured during Sunday's events.

Police 'harassed and attacked'

Berlin police department, which had more than 2,000 officers on the beat in the city this weekend, said that officers were harassed and attacked by protesters.

“They tried to break through the police cordon and pull out our colleagues," it said on Twitter, adding that police had to use irritants and batons.

The protests, including in Berlin’s Charlottenburg neighbourhood and the Tiergarten park, led to multiple arrests, police said. As the crowds made their way toward the Brandenburg Gate, police warned via loudspeaker that they would use water cannons if protesters did not disperse.

Vaccine pass

Germany eased many of its coronavirus restrictions in May, including reopening of restaurants and bars. Still, many activities, such as dining indoors at restaurants or staying in a hotel, require proof that an individual is either fully vaccinated, has recovered from the virus or can show proof of a recent negative coronavirus test.

The Querdenker movement, which has become the largest and most visible anti-lockdown movement in Germany, has at times drawn thousands of supporters to its demonstrations in Berlin and elsewhere across the country. It has brought together a disparate mix of demonstrators, including people opposing vaccinations, coronavirus deniers, conspiracy theorists and right-wing extremists.

Earlier this year, Germany’s domestic intelligence service warned the movement was becoming increasingly radical, putting some of its adherents under surveillance.

The protests follow other wide-scale demonstrations against coronavirus measures around Europe. Thousands have turned out to protest vaccination requirements in France over the past three weekends, at times clashing with the police, and about 80,000 people protested in cities across Italy last weekend.