FRANKFURT -- German public prosecutors have started investigating Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche on suspicions of involuntary manslaughter involving the fatal accident of a 27-year-old engineer caused by an intern on a test track.
"There is an investigation," senior public prosecutor Alexander Retemeyer told Reuters on Friday, confirming a report in German daily Stuttgarter Zeitung.
"It is highly doubtful that the chief executive personally can be held responsible for this, however."
The Stuttgarter Zeitung reported earlier that the parents of the 27-year-old engineer felt the company should not have put the intern behind the wheel of a fast car on a test track.
A spokesman for Daimler said: "There is already a ruling from the district court in Papenburg in which the judge expressly found that Daimler could not be held at fault in any way for the accident."
In addition, the company issued the following statement on Friday: "In legal proceedings against the perpetrator of the accident before the Papenburg District Court on July 12, both the judge and the public prosecutor explicitly stated that the company Daimler, and consequently also the Chairman of the Board of Management, were in no way to blame. In fact, the court found that the driver was solely to blame because he did not look straight ahead at the road in front of him for a distance of several kilometers. The initiation of preliminary investigations of the Board of Management is a pure formality. We assume that these proceedings will be discontinued."
Source: Reuters with contributions from Douglas A. Bolduc.