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Hefty fines for Germans who appeared ‘completely indifferent’ to senior in medical distress

MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 17: A group of policemen patrols on September 17, 2017 in Munich, Germany. Photo by Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

Three Germans were handed hefty fines for not helping a senior who collapsed in a bank.

The 83-year-old man, who hit his head when he fell in a bank in Essen, Germany last October, later died in hospital, the BBC reports.

The accused were three of four people who stepped around the prone body of the man. A fifth man who entered the bank called for emergency services; it took 20 minutes for the man to receive first aid.

In Germany, people are required to help their fellow citizens “in case of an accident, general danger or emergency”, according to Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster.

In court, the accused said they thought the man was homeless and was sleeping on the ground.

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But two policeman, as well as the fifth person who entered the bank, testified that the man was well-dressed and did not look homeless, German news site Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

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The court fined one woman €3,600 ($5,287), and two men €2,800 ($4,112)  and €2,400 ($3,525).

Prosecutor Nina Rezai said the woman received a higher fine because, along with having a higher income, she hadn’t shown any remorse during the court process.

The judge said the accused were “completely indifferent” to the suffering of the senior.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” the judge said, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung.

READ MORE: Disturbing video shows teens filming, mocking man as he drowns

In a similar case, German police are searching for a cyclist who allegedly filmed a man during a traffic accident instead of coming to his aid.

The Guardian reports that a 29-year-old crashed his motorcycle into a lamp-post and was later pronounced dead in Heidenheim, Germany.

The cyclist filmed the aftermath, including the ambulance that arrived to help the victim, and then allegedly got in the way of emergency personnel. When asked, he refused to leave the scene but fled before police arrived.

Duty to help laws in Canada

Under a duty to rescue law, a party can be held liable for failing to help another person in danger. At a minimum, bystanders are required to call emergency officials when they witness a person in distress.

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Quebec is the only province in Canada to have the duty to protect in its Charter of Rights. It states that “Every person must come to the aid of anyone whose life is in peril.”

The duty to rescue law is different from the good Samaritan law, which protects those who try to help in an emergency situation from being sued. In Canada, each province has its own act. Every state in the U.S. also has a good Samaritan law, which differs in every jurisdiction.

READ MORE: ‘It would have saved my son’: Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act becomes law in Canada

A majority of the states in the U.S. do not have a duty to rescue law — but 10 do, including Florida. The laws are limited rules that may require a citizen to help a crime victim without danger or peril to yourself or to others.

Laws like these were also brought to light two months ago, when a group of teenagers watched, laughed and filmed as a man drowned in Florida.

*With files from Katie Dangerfield 

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